Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Thanksgiving to Remember (or forget)

"I don't want to alarm y'all, but I'm feeling nauseous."

Words you never want to hear from the person sitting next to you in a packed car going 85 miles per hour down the interstate.

My Thanksgiving takes me to Houston every year to see my extended family. We sit elbow to elbow around the table, eat delicious food, share stories, laugh and enjoy each other's company. For me, this is usually the only time I see my cousins all year. I must do better. 

The next day, Black Friday, we all opt outside. We pile into cars with all the leftovers and head down the road to "the property" in Brenham, Texas for fresh air, more family, and more good times. It's tradition. A full day of snacking and catching up around the bonfire. S'mores and Starburst when the sun goes down. Then it's back to the city.

I rode with Matthew, Abby, Michelle, Baby Lynnie and two dogs. Matthew was behind the wheel. We were picking on him about calling 911 about debris in the road earlier in the day. Michelle and I were in the back seat with the baby. I was holding a tray of dehydrated fruit and nuts. There was not a lot of room.

What is typically an hour and 45 minute drive took a bit longer after those fateful words from Michelle, who, mere seconds after alerting us to the brewing situation, became the latest victim of a brutal stomach bug that had already taken out several members of the family.

Matthew quickly pulled into a random parking lot. Michelle lost her leftovers, declared that she felt much better and we were off again. Each of us felt comfortable enough to laugh about the near miss. We shouldn't have.

"Pull over."

85 miles per hour and five lanes of traffic to cross... it just wasn't quick enough this time. It happened. In the car. We made it to the curb of an exit ramp outside a busy shopping center (again, Black Friday) and Michelle jumped out to finish what had begun. 

Abby and I pulled our shirts up like masks. 

Poor Michelle, who once again announced that she felt much better (like we were believing that again), obviously took the brunt of the situation, along with the dashboard. 

The damage was done. And we now had to handle it. In a parking lot. With not much more than baby wipes and the clothes on our backs. Michelle was a trooper and did the bulk of the cleaning. I'd like to say I helped, but I did not. I cannot handle throw up. Abby and I stood behind the car and giggled at the absurdity of the situation and secretly prayed that neither of us got sick. I make no apologies.

Did we need a little help? Sure. But not police, fire or ambulance. Somewhere in the dash cleaning process, Michelle managed to hit the car's "redial" button which called 911 loud enough for us to hear outside the car. The dispatcher thankfully did not send anyone our way. We had enough of an audience with the shoppers dodging our car, which was now parallel parked outside a restaurant. The show we were putting on was ridiculous.

Abby, Matt and I rallied and came up with enough wipes, stray tissues and a t-shirt or two to clean the car. But there was still the matter of the smell.  Pro tip: if this ever happens to you, just dip into your travel kit of essential oils and sprinkle some peppermint into your air vents.

Then came the question of clothing. Abby took this one for the team, giving Michelle the leggings off her body, and wrapping Matt's puffy coat around her waist like a skirt. Michelle flashed a handful of drivers on the interstate putting on the pants. We had reached rock bottom.

Or so we thought.  Baby Lynnie finally got wise to what was going on around her, and also gave back everything she had eaten in the past ten hours. Poor kid. We blamed the smell.

With two puking passengers and our peppermint oil hack doing the trick, we stuffed ourselves back in the car and finished the final 45 minutes home drama-free. The tray of dehydrated fruit and nuts stayed behind.

Because I was apparently the only one in the car that had not succumbed to this holiday malady, I felt like a ticking time bomb. 48 hours later, I think I'm in the clear. I think I dodged that bullet.

I'm glad everyone seems to be feeling better, and I hope everyone who got the peep show Friday night appreciates the humor of the situation as much as we did.

Heaping helping of THANKS to Michelle for suggesting that this adventure become a blog post!
I love you!

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