Getting together for Thanksgiving can be a real challenge

Thanksgiving can be a challenge when your have family that lives on the other side of the country.

The Biggs Family is pretty much located in Tulsa (except for one nephew who is studying at Northwestern University in Chicago). For us, Thanksgiving is almost always watching football, eating a great meal, visiting, watching more football, eating dessert and then watching more football while we eat at my brother’s house.

It’s one of the few times we get most of the family together.

To me, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the times for families to gather.

The Campbell Clan (my mother-in-law and father-in-law) are in Orlando, Florida (actually Winter Park). I don’t know if we have ever had Thanksgiving with them in our 33 years of marriage. We have been with them many times for Christmas.

Two Campbell brother-in-laws and their families live in Atlanta and likewise, we see them usually at Christmas but not Thanksgiving.

Also my brother, Ben Campbell, lives in Florida.

There is a logistical problem.

It’s a two-day drive to Orlando and two days back. It’s more than 1,300 miles. You need two days to get there, a couple of days to rest and then two more days to get back to Tulsa. And when you get back to Tulsa, you need a day or two to rest.

With a weekly deadline, we simply don’t have enough time to drive to Orlando or Atlanta for Thanksgiving.

Flying would be the only alternative.

However, everyone and his brother wants to fly home for Thanksgiving. That’s especially true for college students.

We travel to Florida several times a year and we are able to take advantage of special fares. Those fares aren’t available for Thanksgiving.

Normally, if you fly on Tuesday or Thursday, you get the best fares. That’s not true the week of Thanksgiving.

Another complication is that bad weather can mess up your flight schedule. You wouldn’t think that would be true on a flight from Tulsa to Orlando, but if planes are snowed in or iced over in Chicago, Denver, New York or even Atlanta, it could cause some serious delays here.

I can only imagine how busy the Orlando Airport (MCO) would be on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. And even if we flew in on Wednesday, we would have to fly back on Saturday or Sunday – giving us only three or four days to visit. When you travel that far, you like to stay for awhile.

At Christmas, we take a week off because we don’t publish a newspaper on the Thursday between Christmas and New Year’s. That gives us great flexibility in booking cheap airfare and it gives us plenty of time to drive, should we decide to do so.

We drove a few years ago and that was a lot of fun at Christmas. Last year, we got a fantastic fare from Allegiant Airlines that took us into the Sanford  Airport – about 20 miles north of where the Campbells live.

I really wish we could go to Orlando for Thanksgiving because my mother-in-law is a great cook and my father-in-law loves to watch football games.

But staying in Tulsa is pretty special, too.

Life always gets more complicated.

We now have a daughter-in-law who is with my son in Norman. So, there’s always a big decision about where they will be for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her folks  (who are just as wonderful as she is ) live in Edmond – just on the other side of Oklahoma City from Norman.

In a perfect world, they would spend half a day of Thanksgiving with her folks and half a day with the Biggs Clan and then repeat that on Christmas.

But that’s kind of a unfair expectation every year. It always seems to work out to where we can see them on or around holidays.

When I was a boy, we drove eight hours (it’s a five-hour drive now) to Needs Creek, Arkansas (just north of Conway which is 30 miles this side of Little Rock on Interstate 40). My Mom was deceased and my late Uncle Alton and Aunt Mildred treated our family like royalty during the holidays.

Aunt Mildred, too, was a great cook. Not only did she prepare a great Thanksgiving feast, but she would get up real early and make a country breakfast with homemade biscuits with muscadine jelly with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and white gravy. I just gained five pounds thinking about it.

The best part of Thanksgiving is giving thanks to God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Most of our family are believers and it is a special time to get together and thank God for His provision and to renew family relationships.

And I thank God for places like John 3:16 Mission and how they feed the poor in our city and try to make them feel special during Thanksgiving. Tulsa is a very giving city and that is evident during the holidays.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.