The bickering began soon after we pulled out of the driveway and headed down the highway.

Never mind the steam-spewing factories and rush-hour congested roadways. Inside the car, piled high with suitcase and snacks and my daughter’s viola, the children settled into an on-the-road routine of mapping out their territory and finding activities.

Thank God for technology. Whatever did we do when we were kids and on the road for endless hours, no handheld distractions to keep us occupied?

I remember being B-O-R-E-D and playing the license plate game, the state game, elbowing my brother and arguing with my sister and dozing on the big bulky pillows we just had to bring.

Now, I’m barking at the kids to be kind (role model, right?) and listening to satellite radio and then my husband plugged in This American Life, the first of nine episodes of a murder mystery that compelled us from northern Ohio straight through to Connecticut Avenue in NW Washington D.C.

Dan, Asher and I hung on every word in between dozes and pitstops and winding mountain roads. My wonderful husband leaned into the night-dark curves of the long drive just fine, and I am grateful for I am nothing when it comes to night driving.

Eventually, around 1:30 in the morning, we pulled into the garage behind my in-laws’ Dupont Circle brownstone, and the kids, freshly renewed from 4 hours of sleep, leaped from the car, eager to pile into the loft bedroom and giggle into the night, without sleep until they absolutely had to.

I had strange dreams in this unfamiliar bed. From 3 a.m. until a bright 9 o’clock, the stories unfolded in my unconscious and I played a starring role, without explanation as to the meaning.

Isn’t it a funny thing about dreams?

Your Self takes you on a journey with your Self, pondering big questions and insecurities and wanderings and wonderings.

So it’s morning in my in-laws’ home and three of the children are beyond energy and still in pajamas. Shaya builds a stackable tower and it keeps falling and yet he tries again.

Talk turns to the turtle my daughter wants for Chanukah, and whether I can fathom parenting a reptile, and who will care for it while we travel. My eldest sleeps on as the rain pours down on the roof on this late fall day in our nation’s capital.

It’s another day and we are a family together without obligation for work or calling from anywhere outside of our little unit of love. To me, that is the essence of family gathering and holiday, and the five days that are unfolding before us are exactly what we need to restore and reconnect and remember what matters.

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