Thanksgiving week is the most-traveled week of the entire year.

“Over the River and Through the Woods” has long been the theme song for Americans planning family Thanksgiving gatherings. However, these days, grandmother’s house might be empty if you go there as grandma and grandpa may be traveling themselves!

When we were younger, our middle-aged parents welcomed their young adult children—the ones home from college, the ones bringing a new significant other, new in-laws and new babies. We would clank into the house with strollers, play pens, diaper bags, blow-up mattresses, bags of toys, and many changes of clothing. Though it looked like we were planning to stay for months, we were usually on our way home after 2-3 days. Mom and dad waved good-bye cheerfully, then collapsed on the couch with glasses of wine!

Our parents are senior citizens now. More often, they travel to see us sometimes driving multiple days. Other times they fly or travel by train. Elaborate plans are made for where they will stay—at our house? A near-by motel? A sibling’s house? And if they are staying in one of our homes, where will they sleep? Who’s going to give up their bedroom to give grandma or grandpa or—if we’re lucky—both together, a bed, or maybe even two beds!

As they were flooded with the equipment of baby and toddler care long ago, we will now have our turn to help them clank into the house with all their necessities—portable oxygen equipment, C-PAP machines, extra towels and linens, soap and shampoo (they often pack some of those items “just in case”).

Of course, they will need to bring their own pillows from home and sometimes a familiar afghan. Often there will be a coffee pot and “their” brand of coffee among the baggage. Oh, and if they grind their own coffee beans they will bring the grinder too! Some senior parents have even been known to bring a portable TV so they can watch their programs without “bothering” you. The savviest of seniors will even bring their laptops and/or tablets! What with pill boxes that hold their daily prescriptions and vitamins, foot powder, denture cleaner, packages of absorbent adult underwear and several changes of clothing, they will ARRIVE as we did two or more decades ago. And don’t be surprised if everything is topped off with a set of golf clubs or a large bag of quilting fabric!

Drive, fly or go by rail, what a joy to have them come for Thanksgiving! And, those babies of yours will come back to your house now, and bring their babies, and the full family circle will be together again. What joy!!