November 24 – 30, 2014:
The drive to Virginia Beach was excruciatingly long. Fifteen hours in a full car where my dad essentially insisted on driving the entire time. I like car trips, but this one wasn’t all that interesting visually. On top of it, Efrem and I were trying to fill out paperwork needed for the house we had put an offer on. Trying to find a FedEx en route in the middle of nowhere proved difficult. And when we finally did find one, it wasn’t a full service store with the nice printers and fax machines. The women were really nice though and let us use their personal computers and fax machine to try and get the paperwork sent. After numerous attempts with a slow system, we hoped that it went through and got back on the road. Although we found out later that the fax hadn’t made it.
We got to Virginia Beach that evening and went to my cousin’s house to see the family that was already in town. It was going to be Efrem’s first time meeting most of these folks, so I knew it would be a bit overwhelming to deal with all the names and fast talking, but as I expected, he fit right in, no problems.
The week was essentially one of hanging out with family, watching lots of sports, drinking, cooking, and copious amounts of eating. It was a relief having a break from work, it was nice to spend time with family, and it was definitely encouraging to see my family embrace Efrem as “one of us.” It was Efrem’s first Thanksgiving. Ever. And it was definitely done correctly. My cousins somehow managed to, 1) find a 30 pound turkey, and 2) successfully cook it. It was massive, but it fed everyone. We all pitched in to cook a different dish either in our hotels or in some sort of loose schedule at his house, and there was definitely no shortage of food.
My sister and her family arrived towards the end of the week, and since this would be their first time meeting Efrem, we stayed up late on Saturday night talking in the lounge of their hotel room so they could get to know him. We didn’t call it a night until about 3 AM. Consequently, we were all late getting up the next day, and then my mom wanted us to all go get breakfast together before we all left, so it wasn’t until almost noon that we finally got on the road for that 15 hour return drive.
It was such an exhausting drive home that my dad, once again, did entirely on his own. My mother slept and I think Efrem slept, but I, of course, could not, feeling some type of internal obligation to stay awake and make sure my dad was good the whole way home as we drove late into the night. We actually seemed to have gotten home sooner than I expected, but not soon enough.