I remember that time like it was yesterday. For weeks I, a college student at the University, would count off the days until Thanksgiving break. While studying in the vast college library I would imagine the sights and sounds of my hometown. On each page of those old textbooks I could see another picture of the place that I loved so much. Most of all, I saw my family.
Yes, studying and completing those papers was hard. My heart was not in them but the incentive of going home kept me working through those sluggish feelings. Until the day finally came to go home.
That old white suitcase was so jammed with my belongings that I had to practically sit on it to get it to close. After doing that I threw on my grey winter coat, picked up the heavy luggage and walked clear across campus. Yes, the winds blew across that upstate New York campus and I oftentimes had to lower my head into my scarf so that I could breathe. That walk was long but it didn’t even bother me. No, each step got me closer to the bus station and I was going home.
I can still feel the excitement as that old Trailways bus pulled up in front of me. Somehow, I’ll never know how, I managed to get that luggage place underneath in the storage section of the bus, and I crawled up the steps and took my seat. There were people sitting on all sides around me but no one could see that ocean of happy heart beating joy that I felt that day. I glanced at my watch and calculated seven hours. In seven hours I would be home. My home.
It was hard to read and even harder to sleep as the bus sped down those New York highways. I could imagine my Mom busily fixing the pumpkin pie and mincemeat pie and how delicious it must smell. She’d promised to not do the chocolate chip cookies until I got home. But it wasn’t just the cooking and baking that I loved. No, it was each member of my family. I had memorized them all so well that for hours as the bus journeyed across the state I could be lost in thought remembering the sound of their voices and their mannerisms. Family life is like that, I guess. We know each other so well.
Finally we passed the last stop until my town. I sat up closer and stared out the windows watching the familiar landscape quickly passing and knowing that in a few minutes the bus would pull in front of the old newpaper shop on North Avenue and I would be home. Round the corner and down the street the bus rolled. My hands grew sweaty with excitement and I sat up straighter. Almost there……
And then I saw out of the bus window the most beautiful sight in the world.
My Mom. Wearing her familiar dark blue coat and flat brown shoes to help her walk easier. Polio when she was younger had left her with a limp and made walking harder for her. But there she was. Waiting.
She had walked long blocks to get to the bus station after doing all of that cooking. A big smile wreathed her face as I hurriedly stepped out of the bus and ran into her arms.
Home. Finally home. My heart was home where it belonged. Thanksgiving had begun.