thanksgiving: world race vs. this year.

On Wednesday evening my three younger siblings and I drove from Columbus to Buffalo for Thanksgiving…

My siblings and I have our fair share of fights, but we also share a greater amount of laughs. There’s just a distinguished Mendola quality that can’t quite be appreciated among outsiders. When we’re together we can be weird and it’s perfectly normal.

(…and that’s only half of us!)

As soon as we started driving my youngest brother Paul informed us that he had googled “fun games to play on road trips” before we left. I thought that was entirely adorable. So we played one of the games, and then Paul started making up his own. One of them required each person to share either a truth or a lie about themselves, and if you think the person is lying you say “tuna.” The game, surprisingly enough, was called Tuna. One time Paul said, “When I was little I got into the driver’s seat of our minivan and backed it up until it almost hit a house, but Dad jumped in and stopped it just in time.” We all cried TUNA! …only to discover that he was, in fact, telling the truth. We even called my Dad to confirm. Kids these days!

After a few hours, when the CD player finally started working, we settled down and did our own thing. I leaned my head against the window and stared at the passing highway. For a moment it all seemed so strange – being in a car, with paved roads, in America – I felt like I had just returned from the World Race, instead of the five months that it’s really been. I thought about a year ago to the day, when we had celebrated Thanksgiving in Israel. And suddenly I missed the World Race possibly more than I ever have.

Thanksgiving on the race was one of my favorite days of the entire year. There were 45 of us, and we were each other’s family. People rushed around all morning, cooking on a limited budged and in three separate apartments (…I don’t know who made the sweet potatoes, but those were the best I’ve ever had.) In the afternoon the boys played football. Later, we ate outside, looking over the Negev desert.

After dinner we played silly games and learned a dance routine to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” We had a send off for our squad leader, Caroline, who was leaving the following morning. We shared stories. We laughed. We cried. We sang out of tune…

This year I was in a car, on a paved road to Buffalo, New York. Funny how that happens.

Thanksgiving in Buffalo was good. It was nice to be together with all of my extended family (who can be weird in their own way as well…I swear my Grandma is hilarious, though I’m not even sure she knows it.)

And I was able to see my niece Marie Blessing, with whom I’m obssessed…

Also, my Aunt Carol makes the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had.

It’s just so weird how life changes. Last year I celebrated Thanksgiving in the desert with 45 unrelated people – this year I snuggled up inside once again with my extended family.

And one day I will no longer travel to Buffalo to see my aunts and uncles and cousins – one day I’ll travel to my parent’s house and my siblings and I will be the aunts and uncles and our kids will be the cousins. That’s weird to think about. But I guess that’s how life works.


About Hope Naomi

Lover of all things tea and travel.
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5 Responses to thanksgiving: world race vs. this year.

  1. i always love what you write. it brings me joy that you and your siblings played a game called tuna, and that someday you’re right, you will be the aunts and uncles. oh, life.

    my favorite holiday memories, mostly come from amsterdam, when everything was so different. how hard it was to find cans of pumpkin, carrying the turkey home on a bike, bringing a christmas tree home by bakfiet, going to a christmas morning church service.

    i enjoy you and i think i’ll see you tonight, which will be AWESOME.

  2. Shannon says:

    Hope, you have no idea how happy it makes me that you continually write about the Race. It makes my mornings to read blogs about it!

    Also, as for missing the Race more than you possibly thought you could… I watched your “ll I want for Christmas” video a few weeks ago, and at the part when we’re all dancing around at Thanksgiving, I PHYSICALLY hurt. I had no idea I could miss so many people at that moment. It was like, each person was a physical sting in my heart, and I was overwhelmed. I cried a LOT! Thanksgiving with J-Squad was so amazing and I’ll never, ever forget it 🙂

    • marissa says:

      So I originally read this on my phone. And on there, you don’t see the name of the person who made a comment until the very end. And I kind of love that I KNEW Shannon was the one who wrote this. The videos also made me hurt while I was watching them.

  3. Halley says:

    Hey, remember that time we choreographed that epic full-squad dance? And we were so excited about it being in the video? And then we let Ruth record it? Yeah….

  4. shanaynegans says:

    When I was growing up I was embarassed of my family. My dad was short, hairy, and Italian. My mom was taller than my dad, wore mom jeans, and publicly stood up for the underdogs of the world. My older brother farts more in one day than some people do in one year, he was “cool”, and emotional. My younger brother was dorky, weird, and talked to himself when he played video games or legos.

    But nooooow I am SOOO in love with my family. I love them for all the things I used to hate them for!!! 🙂 And I love reading your blogs about family stuff.

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