Written by Gwyneth Gibby, WMG’s Associate Publisher:
Travel and Thanksgiving have gone together for Americans for a very long time. I was thinking about it today as Allyson Longueira went off to visit family. I decided to look up the song that I always remembered as “Over the River and Through the Wood to Grandmother’s House We Go…” It actually began as a poem called “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day”; it was written by Lydia Marie Child and published in 1844. (Those New England boys were headed to Grandfather’s house, by the way.)
At Thanksgiving time it is still a tradition to traverse whatever distance has separated us from our families and friends, to give thanks for one another and for the good things in our lives. Child paints an idyllic picture:
“…the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,
through the white and drifted snow….”
“Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, ‘O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.’”
But in real life Thanksgiving can be empty of happy things such as drifted snow, sleighs and pie. Families quarrel, expectations are dashed, Uncle George still rants about politics, and Aunt Marie always says the turkey is too dry. And sometimes there isn’t a turkey, dry or otherwise.
Child herself had few illusions about the world at large. She was a lifelong political activist; a vehement abolitionist, a women’s rights proponent, and an advocate for Native American rights in the mid-nineteenth century when none of those was a popular cause. Still, she found it in herself to celebrate the joys of a rural New England childhood during the holidays, while during the rest of the year she was dedicated to fighting vigorously to make those joys a reality for every child, African Americans and Native Americans included, if she could.
Maybe because travel is both ingrained in our national character—we are a mobile nation—and entrenched in our holiday traditions, writers continue to write about it.
Every week, Kristine Kathryn Rusch offers a free short story on her blog. This week’s, “Snow Day,” takes place in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport during a Thanksgiving snowstorm. Yes, holiday travel. The story will warm your heart and remind you of why it is important to reconnect, to reassess, and rediscover what comfort we can offer each other in this world that is sometimes so harsh.
My own world has been anything but harsh in the year I’ve been at WMG Publishing. It’s been a blast! Nothing makes me happier than working with creative, talented, generous and good-humored folks. And for that I am very grateful.
All of us at WMG Publishing, those of us staying at home as well as those traveling, wish all of you good cheer wherever you are and whomever you are with.
Gwyneth Gibby is Associate Publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning journalist. Allyson Longueira is on vacation.