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Family Participation

When my second, and youngest, child got his driver’s license, the ecological side of me decided I needed to downsize my car. It’s been years since I’d toted around Girl Scout or Boy Scout troops or organized carpools to and from school or extracurricular activities. A smaller car made sense.
But moving my eldest child back and forth between cities for clinical rotations made me long for the vast boxy-ness of my previous Chevy Astro van.
A road trip to Pittsburgh from our Long Island hometown this past week, served two purposes: to celebrate Thanksgiving as a complete family unit, and to move my daughter out of her latest, clinical setting at UPMC.

My family and I enjoyed traipsing through the mountainous and picturesque ‘City of Bridges.’ We laughed, we took silly pictures, and we ate turkey, together. But on our last night, I could see the stress begin to set in. Both my husband and my daughter, the two so much alike, began to dwell on the move.
He asked, “Does she have that much stuff?”
She asked, “What if we can’t fit it all into your car, Mom?”
Light as a breeze, I answered, “We can put a box in the mail.”
In my family, I am the one who is most likely to remain calm; the one who usually soothes ruffled feathers. Later, out of earshot of my daughter, I warned my husband. “Whatever you do, don't get excited. We’ll figure it out.”
Despite having doled out the calming rhetoric to my husband and daughter, I lay awake with my own doubts. It was cold out - a chilly 23 degrees. Would we find a place to park near the house? Where would we find boxes to ship the items that didn’t fit? How much time and money would this extra task involve?
I lulled myself to sleep with a mantra of good will.
It will all work out.
On moving day, as my family marched back and forth from the rented room of the house to the street, piling my daughter’s belongings on the sidewalk, I admit, for a moment, I began to sweat—the chilly weather was forgotten.
There was a lot of stuff!
Not allowing ourselves to become stagnated by apprehension, together, my family went to work, packing and filling all nooks and crannies with shoes, clothes and books.
Then, a wonderful thing happened — the sidewalk was bare.
With my Chevy’s good-sized trunk, a rooftop carrier, and a keen eye for spatial allowances, we achieved success. We got it all in.

I admired it. 
My daughter sighed her relief.
My husband high-fived our son.

On the road, comfortably nestled in the crowded backseat, I reflected on the experience. We’d not been facing any cataclysmic event—our victory small by most standards—but four adults participated and cooperated in getting a required job done.
As my family grows older and begins to follow their individual chosen paths in life, there will be much greater milestones to celebrate. Though this particular deed was a minor achievement, it’s nice to know we can pull together, quite well.
On this Thanksgiving weekend, I am grateful for those I love. And, I cherish this small family win.

Wishing you and your families a happy, healthy holiday season 2013!



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