When I was younger, my family would drive twelve hours to visit my grandparents in Pennsylvania every Christmas for a week. In the last five years or so, though, we’ve only been up for a couple of long weekends and for my grandpap’s funeral. Each time, someone wasn’t able to come because they couldn’t get off work, but this year it was like old times again.
We used to have a van that all six of us would pile in, but my mom sold that for a 5-passenger SUV this year. So three of us crammed into the back (a good example of why it’s annoying that my family is so tall sometimes) with me in the middle. My sister had to work late so she was going to fly in to Pittsburgh later.
We got stuck in some traffic in Ohio where it started to snow, and my mom kept saying quietly, “we’re going to get stuck in this blizzard,” and “we should have stayed home,” and “it’s like a blizzard out.” I was about to throw snow at her to keep her quiet. Other than that we arrived just fine at about 2AM.
The next morning, I awoke to find a white blanket of snow covering the ground!
My Dad and I went to pick up my sister and left early to make sure we had enough time to get there with all of the snow. It was really nice, just hanging out with my dad. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with him anymore, just me and him, so it was really cool. We crossed the bridge over the river by my grandma’s to head to town, and struggled up the hill. We giggled together as we slid all over the place. (Looking back, it probably wasn’t that smart, sliding all around in the snow when we could have slid right off the cliff and into the river, haha. But… YOLO.) We finally made up it up the hill and once we got to town, the roads became clearer. He pointed out the neighborhood that he wanted to grow up in with the nice houses, and where he had to come rescue my aunt when she slid off the road and into a ditch once when it snowed. They also took the old brickhouse out, where my dad worked as a teenager. Driving into Pittsburgh, I saw a sign for PNC park. I asked if anyone besides him was into baseball growing up and he said he was really the only one. He would get tickets from high school and wouldn’t find anyone to go with him. We were quiet as we went through a tunnel. My family knows I love the tunnels – when I was really little, I would constantly ask if we were close to the tunnel (specifically, the one in Wheeling, WV), not the “are we there yet?” that most children ask.
Even though I didn’t grow up here, Pennsylvania is my home away from home. I feel like I’m at home when I’m here. It’s so humbling how so many things can change over time, and other things will remain almost exactly the same. We grow older, but grandma’s house remains the same, and her peanut brittle will always be the best.
I feel like it’s truly Christmas now, with snow on the ground and being back in Pennsylvania. There’s truly nothing like sneaking pieces of peanut brittle when my mom isn’t looking and my grandma giggling while I huddle on the far side of the house, trying to mooch off my aunt’s wi-fi down the road. And my aunts and uncles are hilarious. It’s so good to see them again – even if they joke with me about the stink bugs they have here. (In my defense, they are HUGE.)
We’re headed back early tomorrow morning, probably about 6:00AM. I’m sorry to leave, but it will nice to be home. Six-hundred and seventy beautiful miles to go.