We have driven so many endless miles across the Midwestern prairies this holiday season.
Miles racing across the flat farmlands and soft rolling hills. Through wide open skies that make you feel infinitely small in the best possible way and heavy forests hushed with the beauty of freshly fallen snow.
We rushed across the Illinois prairies to Iowa, swapping smack stories and listening to old school rock with Joe's brother and his girlfriend, ridiculously late to the first family get together. We made it back to Chicago the same day.
We drove through the industrial mill towns of northern Indiana and across the alternating farmlands and woods of southern Michigan towards a quiet holiday with family.
We gave and got surprises and gifts chosen with love. There were calls of Christmas cheer and stolen kisses under the mistletoe.
We delayed a return to Chicago because of a snowstorm and instead spent another day challenging everyone to pinball matches, darts, and euchre in between rounds in my parents' new hot tub.
And when the snow let up, we saw Indiana prairies melt into curving, wooded ravines as we wished yet another set of dear friends the best of matrimonial bliss. And I got to see where Joe got into mischief during his undergrad days.
We still have a bit more Midwestern prairie to make our way through before the holidays are over for us this season. And truth be told, I really don't mind those miles to go yet. The ones we've driven and the ones to go have given us friends and family and holiday cheer and the realization that the agreed upon tunes must be Motown. Joe has also learned that I will absolutely choose old-school Backstreet Boys songs to sing along to at the top of my lungs if he jokingly asks if I want to listen to them when the drive becomes mind-numbing. We've also learned we like our road trips together.
And that, my friends, is the greatest gift of the Midwestern prairie miles - the realization that there's no one else we'd rather travel with, side by side.