The Christmas Road Trip that wasn’t…

How excited are you heading into the holidays? You have all kinds of plans, maybe you’re going somewhere new, or back home. Maybe you’re waiting for people to come to you. Maybe you’re taking yourself somewhere to relax solo.  However you planned it, you were looking forward to the days of holiday vacation. We were too. We had all kinds of plans. For me, I had food to prep for perfect car snacks, so many busy bags to make for the perfect engaging activities for  our two year old, and packing!


(More detailed photos and ideas for toddler busy bags in a future post)

Christmas cards to finish so I could hand deliver for once… And factoring in the perfect amount of sleep and coffee needed to get an early start… Yea, our plan was a road trip back to my home to spend with all my relatives, something I hadn’t done since 2009 when David and Elijah weren’t even in the picture yet!

David and I have had 5 Christmases together, we’ve had Elijah for three Christmases. Not one of those Christmases has been with all my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, the works. We thought surely this would be the year! Elijah is at such a fun age, he’s remembering so many things, he knows so many people now. It’s robbery not to share him with all the ones I love and vice versa.

We did GREAT getting all the items packed, car loaded the night before, even the cooler was packed and waiting in the fridge for me to add ice when I awoke three hours later. Our clothes were laid out, Elijah went to sleep in his outfit for the road, everything was peachy.

Elijah was so excited when we woke him up just in time to load him in the car at 4am. Papa and Mama had travel coffee mugs filled, Mama had hot tea and and hot broth to go as well, excitement was brimming over for all of us.  3 hours down the road, the engine starts missing. Uh-OH.

We made it to a gas station and started wracking our brains. A nice man who had just stopped for coffee stuck it out with us for a few minutes trying to come up with possible problems. Finally I realized I was in the city of a best friend. We called her up and she happened to be 5 minutes a way. She guided us to her favorite repair shop where we waited HOURS… probably 4 HOURS with a toddler…. At least the busy bags came in handy.


Yay for a DIY color and size sorter and cool cookie tray-turned-lap desk (both these items become even more entertaining when you add a magnet wand!).

The car repaired enough for the drive back home… that’s right $739 dollars to fix some coils and 7 hours of our trip only to not be taking a trip. We were heading back home. The crazy thing to us remains, we had our car at the dealer the day before for an oil change and to check it for road readiness… it puzzles me how something like this gets missed. David also ended up noticing some belts needed replacing. Great.

We were starved by now. Road snacks stage one were only supposed to get us to 9am and then we were going to stop for a nice breakfast. We decided even though we had dropped a load of dough, we should still enjoy a hot meal. Cracker barrel it was. Yummy… but hard on the belly when you’re not accustomed to eating that way anymore.

When we were leaving the restaurant the sun was out and it felt kind of warm, we decided to see if the city offered any amusement for a toddler on Christmas Eve. Indeed it did.


We found a great children’s museum that would be open for two more hours when we got there. We had a blast! It’s so great having a kid old enough to enjoy activities like that.

Afterward we took a stroll to the square and took some us-ies with the pretty, huge tree.


So we managed to cheer ourselves up before we headed back to our place, only for a torrential downpour to start, and arrive at home to a tree-less house (we took ours down the previous Saturday so we didn’t have to clean it up after our big trip… We weren’t supposed to be home for xmas). Elijah said what we were all thinking… “No, no, no go home! Go trip. See Pap! Ride Horse!” Sorry bud. bummer about that good memory of his.

Christmas day was even more of a shock of reality… We had been so diligent about cleaning out the fride before we left, that we had very few options for food. We thought surely Walmart must be open for at least half a day… While I’m happy for the workers who got to be off work, it was kind of a bummer for us. We had sat and together planned some fun foods to make as a family on our Christmas rebound, to only have further disappointment when we couldn’t purchase the food… In only the best Christmas Story fashion… we settled for food at what seemed the only open place in town except for Walgreens.


Oh yes… Chinese buffet for Christmas breakfast, lunch and dinner… All in one sitting. Bleh. David and Elijah seemed to love it though 🙂

Later in the evening I realized I could make chocolate almond bark with some chocolate chips, almonds, and coconut oil I had in the fridge. We popped popcorn, then drove around looking at lights. Came home and ate our treats while watching The Gruffalo and then The Gruffalo’s Child. As hubs kept saying over and over again… “Taking lemons and making lemonade. BOOM!”


FINALLY! Dec. 26 arrives. Stores open. We can BUY FOOD! That evening we cooked as a family and salvaged our very strange, unplanned holiday.


I loved that I’m not the one who peeled the garlic! Hate that job 🙂 Elijah loves being included in food prep. We made loaded mashed potato casserole, Parmesan crusted chicken with bacon and asiago, and creamy garlic and mushrooms.

This certainly was not the Christmas we planned, but I think we all have some good memories. And of course, yet another lesson in people making plans and God laughing. He takes care of no matter what, that much is clear.

2 thoughts on “The Christmas Road Trip that wasn’t…”

  1. The irony is that it will probably end up being the most memorable holiday of Elijah’s childhood for his parents. The one I think I remember most is one that involved a fair amount of vomit. 😀 God bless you in all good things, Miranda, and I’ll look forward to seeing you the next time the vehicle and the wallet cooperate together.


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