A family tries to get out of town for Thanksgiving, but it's not that easy.
|“Are we there yet?”
“Very funny, Kenny. You might wait until we're out of the driveway before you start asking that question.” And so began the annual Thanksgiving trip for John Meecham, his wife Barbara, their eight-year-old twins Kenny and Jenny, and their basset hound Petunia.
“I sure hope Grandma bakes two pumpkin pies this year,” chirped Jenny.
“Yeah,” Kenny agreed. “Last year there wasn't enough, and we had to eat the mince pie mom brought.”
“Watch what you say about your mother's mince pie,” said John. “She works hard on it.”
“Where is she?” Jenny crabbed. “What's taking her so long?”
“Um,” said John, “she forgot something.”
“Just something. Here she comes now.”
“I can't believe I almost forgot the mince pie,” said Barbara as she climbed in. Kenny and Jenny looked at each other and made gagging gestures. John saw them in the mirror and scowled, but they were too busy giggling to notice.
“Did you make sure the stove is off?” asked John.
“Be right back.” Barbara got out and headed back inside.
“Hurry, mom,” shouted Jenny. “The house is going to blow up.”
John sighed audibly. “It's an electric stove,” he said. “It's not going to blow up.”
Two minutes later, Barbara rejoined the family and turned to John. “Did you remember to pack the sweater my mother knitted for you?”
John sighed again, shook his head, and climbed out.
“We're never going to get there,” whined Jenny.
“I don't want to go anyway,” Kenny added.
“You'll go,” said Barbara. “And we'll get there. And you'll have a good time.”
“Everybody ready?” asked John as he slid back in. “Then let's go,” he added quickly, before anyone had a chance to respond.
As they rolled out of the driveway, Barbara asked, “Are you going to take the long way around―”
“Eewww.” The cry from Jenny cut her mother off.
“Wow,” laughed Kenny. “Petunia sure doesn't smell like one.”
“I thought I asked you to walk the dog before we left.”
“I did,” said Kenny.
“And did she do anything?”
“Nope. But I think she's about to.”
John said nothing, but stopped and pulled back into the driveway. “Out,” he commanded.
“Who?” said Kenny.
“Don't get smart, young man,” Barbara scolded. “You're the one who wanted a dog.”
Five minutes later, Kenny and Petunia climbed back into the car. “Did she go?” John asked sternly.
“Did you pick it up?”
“What did you do with it?”
“I threw it into the bushes.”
“Kenny,” chided his mother. “You know better than that.”
“Well, the garage is locked, and I didn't think you wanted it in the car.”
“The garage is locked, isn't it?” Barbara asked her husband, who climbed out without speaking and strode angrily up the driveway.
“I don't think we're ever―”
“Not another word, Jenny,” her mother muttered.
“Let's just go,” said John when he returned. And away they went. Again. But seconds later, they screeched to a stop, and John backed up several yards, stopped, and opened his window. “Bill,” he called out.
“What's the matter,” Barbara asked.
Before John could answer, their neighbor appeared. “Mind checking to make sure they stopped our mail?” said John.
“Happy to,” the neighbor told him.
“Thanks.” John waved and closed his window. And away they went. Again.
By the time they reached the interstate, a light rain had begun to fall. “Well, the car needed washing,” said John, trying hard to sound cheerful. But moments later the rain turned to sleet. “Oh, that's just wonderful.” His cheerful tone was nowhere to be heard.
As he eased into the right-hand lane, John spotted a line of brake lights up the entrance ramp. “Now what?” he grumbled.
“Must be an accident,” said Barbara.
“Oh, boy,” shouted Kenny.
“We'll have to take the local roads for a while,” said John.
“Aww,” Kenny and Jenny responded in unison. “Do we have to?” Kenny added.
“No, you don't have to,” said John. “But it's a long walk to Grandma's.”
“Can you see okay?” Barbara asked.
“So far.” John reached over and switched on the defroster. After several seconds, he turned on the wipers. The windshield cleared for a short time, but the sleet began to build up and block John's vision. Then, on one swoosh, the driver's-side wiper blade flew off and disappeared behind them. “Oh, I can't believe this,” John practically screamed. He switched on the emergency flashers, and as quickly as possible pulled toward the side of the road. But the violent jerk and bounce of the minivan told all of them that John had jumped the curb.
“God da―” He caught himself, and sat quietly fuming for a few seconds.
“I hope nobody hits us,” said Kenny.
“Just hand me the scraper,” John told Barbara, his voice nearly trembling.
“Where is it?”
“It should be by your feet.”
“Maybe he can use mom's mince pie,” Kenny whispered to his sister. They burst into raucous laughter, which their parents ignored, mostly from experience. Any time both children were laughing heartily after whispering, one could safely assume that the subject was something silly or gross.
“Nope,” said Barbara. “It's not down here.”
“Well, then, where― oh, never mind.”
“Are we there yet?” asked Kenny.
“Not a good time,” said Barbara.
John just sat there, staring at the now opaque windshield. After nearly two minutes of excruciating silence, he turned to his wife.
“What are we going to do?” she said.
“We're going to call your mother,” said John. “And we're going to ask her to postpone Thanksgiving until next July.”