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Diary of a Thanksgiving Road Trip

Photograph by Getty Images

5:30 a.m. Hit snooze on the alarm clock. Remind myself that I can skip a shower and just put on a baseball cap for the car ride.

6:00 a.m. Roll out of bed and ask my husband whether it’s really necessary to drive across the state to see his family. Who invented Thanksgiving, anyway?

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6:30 a.m. Put on baseball cap and offer to walk to the nearest café to pick up coffee and breakfast. It’s easier than loading heavy suitcases into the car and wrangling cranky children.

7:00 a.m. Distribute coffee, bagels and milk boxes in the car. Discover after reaching the freeway on-ramp that there is only one cinnamon sugar bagel—and two boys ready to fight to the death over it.

7:15 a.m. “I need to go to the bathroom!”

7:20 a.m. Stop at the nearest gas station mini mart to use the bathroom. We haven’t even left the county yet.

7:25 a.m. Pick up package of donuts at the gas station to make up for the missing cinnamon bagel.

7:45 a.m. Reach the I-5, only to realize everyone else in Northern California had the same idea of leaving early. Get into an argument with the husband about whether it’s better to leave before the crack of dawn or to start at midnight the night before.

8:00 a.m. “How much longer ‘til we get there?”

8:05 a.m. Start the first of the "Clone Wars" DVDs.

8:10 a.m. Kick self for not packing movies without constant shouting and gunfire.

8:30 a.m. Settle into a lull, now that the kids are mesmerized by Anakin and company.

8:35 a.m. Start posting selfies. With sunglasses and enough filters, I can look like a fun, cool mom, not like a woman who might kill her own husband and children.

9:00 a.m. Lose 4G connection. What am I supposed to do if I can’t Instagram this trip?

9:30 a.m. Plug in "The Clone Wars" season 2. Screen time, schmeen time.

“Why isn’t that lady on the billboard wearing any clothes? What’s a gentleman’s club?”

10:00 a.m. “I’m hungry!”

10:05 a.m. Fumble through the pile of pillows and stuffed animals in an attempt to find the bag of snacks I packed earlier.

10:10 a.m. Pull up Yelp to find the nearest fast food. Internet service is still spotty.

10:30 a.m. Spot a McDonald’s on the side of the road and tell kids we’re getting lunch.

10:35 a.m. See a cute little taqueria across the street from the golden arches and attempt to convince the family we should eat there instead. No luck.

10:45 a.m. Pull into the McDonald’s parking lot. “Where are my shoes?”

10:55 a.m. After tearing the entire car apart, realize that in the rush to get out of the house, I forgot to pack shoes for the children to wear. Argue with the husband about whose job it was to put their shoes in the car.

11:00 a.m. Convince the kids to put on a pair of old socks and walk across the parking lot into the dirtiest McDonald’s ever.

11:15 a.m. People watch while waiting for the world’s slowest Happy Meal to arrive.

11:20 a.m. Start a game of “guess who’s from Northern California and who’s from Southern California.” Nobody else in my family finds this nearly as amusing as I do.

11:30 a.m. Push through the crowd of hungry, exhausted people to retrieve my tray of food. At least I think it’s my tray…

12:00 p.m. Throw away trash and hit the restroom one more time.

12:10 p.m. Peel off the kids' nasty socks and toss them in the garbage.

12:15 p.m. "Clone Wars" season 3

1:30 p.m. "Clone Wars" season 4

2:00 p.m. Call Mother-in-Law and tell her we’re making great time, should be there in a few hours.

2:30 p.m. "Clone Wars" season 3

2:45 p.m. Look up Waze, as there must be an accident on the pass. Nope, no accident. It’s just LA traffic.

3:30 p.m. “I need to go to the bathroom!”

3:45 p.m. “Are we there yet?”

4:00 p.m. “Why isn’t that lady on the billboard wearing any clothes? What’s a gentleman’s club?”

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4:45 p.m. Husband decides surface streets are the best way to beat the traffic, take tour of all the warehouses in Southern California.

5:30 p.m. Pull into driveway at Grandma’s house. Hugs and kisses all around. Why don’t we visit more often?

5:45 p.m. Realize kids have no shoes. Off to find the nearest Target!

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