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.)
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.