The best – or worst – part about Thanksgiving is that you’re with family for every minute of the week.  For me, it was the best – in the worst situation.

I spent my Thanksgiving in Houston, Texas, my family’s “headquarters” ever since my grandparents immigrated there way back when.  They passed away 5 years ago, and to this day, it’s still the main gathering location of our family.  This trip was my first time coming back to Texas in 7 years, hence there was much reminiscing and nostalgia.  As we drove past my grandparents’ old houses, memories of my childhood bubbled up to the surface and popped once we drove off.

In fact, since it was my first time coming back in 7 years, my cousins wanted to make it my very best Thanksgiving.  They packed the week with exciting events with so much to look forward to.  Just looking at the itinerary made me jump up and down.

As my exciting week neared the end, my cousin Stephanie wanted to take me to Texas’ favorite arcade, Dave and Buster’s, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day.  I’ve never been to a video arcade (for as long as I remember), and from what I’ve been told, Dave and Buster’s is the arcade to go to.  Thrilled, I sat in the car eagerly waiting for her to get in and start driving.

According to Apple iMaps, from the house to Dave and Buster’s is 22 minutes of driving.  We left at around 8pm, give or take, ready to spend at least 5 hours of seizing the glorious wonderland.

10 minutes after we merged into the lanes of the highway, the cars all around us were immobile.  Traffic.  The last thing we wanted to deal with at that moment.  My night was supposed to be filled with fun at Dave and Buster’s, and traffic is in the way of it all.

What’s horrible about traffic is that you’ve got exactly nowhere to go.  You’re literally stuck.  Stephanie and I were stuck for what felt like hours on end.

8:30 pm:  We turned up our radio to full volume, rolled down all our windows, opened the sky roof, sat on the headrests of our seats and started dancing.  A car full of high schoolers yelled to us, “What station is that?!”, and proceeded to tune into the same one, jamming out to “Stay The Night”.

45 minutes later, we drove exactly 4 inches.  “Are you kidding me?!” yelled a U-Haul truck driver out of his window.  “This is insane.  They should just move the scene of the accident to one lane so the other three are functional!”  3 lanes were blocked off because of the car accident, and all the cars had to merge into one lane – the cause of the jam.

10:00 pm:  An old couple driving next to us first strike conversation by asking us about where we’re going, and by the end started telling us about how they met.  Some college students held up posters saying “Jesus loves You!” and cheered when we honked at them in agreement.

We had the most spontaneous encounters with the cars next to us – conversations you’d normally never experience unless you were stuck in the same bothersome situation of a traffic jam.

10:45 pm, we finally started making progress.  Reaching to the “merge” of 4 lanes into one, Stephanie and I rolled our eyes and sighed of relief.

As we neared the ramp to the exit, the flashing red lights of the ambulances blinded us.  To the left, beyond the loose line of police and police cars:  a crash involving a motorcycle and an SUV, both terribly mutilated.  Next to the motorcycle, a figure, covered by a white sheet, two feet exposed at the end.

Stephanie and I drove home in silence, not muttering a word about what had happened. We’ve only seen scenes like this from watching movies and TV shows like CSI. I had never expected I’d actually catch sight of something like that in real life.

To hear about tragedies is very different from seeing one.  Growing up, we’d hear about people passing away from various gruesome accidents, but they aren’t shocking because we never see them happen in front of our eyes.

Although I had only caught a glimpse of what had happened, that mere second has presented a little piece of the world we’re normally not exposed to.  That sheer second was enough to show me the reality of the world, and the essence of true thankfulness.

Now when you know you’re stuck in traffic on the highway, complaining, infuriated, and ready to explode, think twice about what might be causing it.

Happy late Thanksgiving – it’s never too late to be thankful for the people around you and the beautiful, blessed life you have.