I realize that I have committed the ultimate blogger sin, and not commented about the family’s Thanksgiving trip to Virginia to visit my mom. Heck, I haven’t even taken notes on it to build into a blog post.

First, I’ve discovered that travelling actually makes me insane. I made the mistake of having the three of us take the bus and the subway to Penn Station with all of our luggage. The N train was not running for some reason, so the bus was incredibly crowded and slow and not at all amenable to our luggage. When we finally made it to Penn Station, we attempted to check our bags, only to be told that we were two minutes too late to do so. So enraged was I that I shouted and screamed and kicked my bags across the floor of the Amtrak terminal. This caused Paula some consternation as you can imagine. In the future, I should probably consider taking a Valium, or at least taking a cab.

We took Amtrak directly from New York City to Charlottesville. As much as I hate Amtrak for very long distance travel (like to Florida), the medium distance to Virginia was actually quite nice. I’ll trade Monster Chiller Airport Security Theater for a bit longer travel time any day.

We spent most of our time with my sister, brother-in-law, and two nieces. Our days in Virginia were pretty much spent either entertaining the kids or desperately trying to take in natural beauty as quickly as humanly possible.

Entertaining the kids was actually quite fun. We went apple picking. We went to a story-time at a bookstore downtown. We took the kids to a “discovery museum” type place. Benjamin rode on his first carousel. Frankly, these things where kids can just run around and be kids make me happy, not just because I like to see my kid happy, but because I can relax and not worry about what trouble he’s getting into or who he’s bothering.

(By the way, having picked apples in both New York and Virginia, I must say that the apples in Virginia were the most unbelievably sweet, juicy, wonderful apples I’ve ever bitten into. Highly recommended.)

Taking in natural beauty is more problematic, because kids just don’t care about that stuff. I wonder why, since it seems to be kind of an innate feeling that all (adult) humans experience upon experiencing the vastness and beauty of unbridled nature. But kids who have otherwise infinite energy develop droopy legs of rubber when asked to walk in nature and appreciate it for its own sake.

That being said, I can absolutely agree with everyone who says that Virginia is God’s country. It is just about the most beautiful place I could ever imagine.

Thanksgiving Day itself was something of a nightmare. We had reservations (all 11 of us!) at the historic Boar’s Head Inn at 7:30. After waiting in a lovely but not particularly kid-friendly waiting room for over an hour, they agreed to seat us in a private dining room. Nothing kids like better than sitting down to dinner at 9:00 PM… So we finally sit down and look at the menus. When Mom made the reservations, lo these many months ago, she asked if they had a children’s menu. They said yes. Well, they technically did, but it was nothing but an abbreviated version of the adult menu. There was nothing and I mean nothing any three-year-old in the history of the world would eat. Every time the waiter set something down at the table, one of my nieces would exclaim, “I don’t like this!” And I could hardly blame her. To add insult to injury, the food wasn’t even all that good for the adults, especially considering the price.

(I snarked to Paula later, “For that price, I could have leaned out my window and shouted, ‘You there! Boy! What day is it?’ and he would reply, ‘Why it’s Christmas Day, Sir!’, and I could say, ‘Oh, wonderful! I haven’t missed it! Do you know that turkey in the window?’ ‘The one as big as me, sir?’, etc.)

What do I really want for Thanksgiving? A big family at home sitting around a messy table with a whole turkey (none of this “turkey roulade” crap like they served at the Boar’s Head) and my Grandma’s kishka stuffing. I talked to my sister the other day, and she said she was making a turkey dinner for her family to make up for the one they didn’t have on Thanksgiving. That sounds like a wonderful idea.

After Thanksgiving Day itself, things calmed down a lot as people started to head home. Highlights of the post-turkey period include our trip to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home and the most beautiful historic mansion (on the most beautiful grounds) I’d ever seen. Its functionality and good-sense are a stark contrast to the garishness of Vizcaya in Miami, the only other historic mansion and grounds I’ve been to.

Truth be told, although it’s always wonderful to see family, the trip was actually incredibly stressful. There were just too many people in the same place at the same time. Still, the sheer beauty of the place makes me eager to visit again in a hopefully more relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately, the next time I’ll be there will be in April for a wedding, and weddings are not known for being laid-back or kid-friendly…