Fantastic Friday: Thank Goodness for Traffic

photostudio_1572454264232Earlier this week, as I was letting my corgis outside in the dark hours of the morning, I happened to look down at my phone. A traffic alert had popped up about an accident along my route. My route to work is not long—15 minutes with no traffic—but is also a major route for people from 2 different states to commute east and even to commute into Washington DC. The location of this particular accident was almost the worst possible point on everyone’s commute, as it encompassed the regular route as well as the alternate, and later I learned that there were several crashes.

I left a few minutes early to accommodate the accident, but on the main street of my small hometown, traffic was baked up, with the traffic circle almost in gridlock. To make a long story short, the would-be 15-minute drive took an hour and 20 minutes.

My husband had just gotten the soundtrack for The Nightmare Before Christmas for the car—a movie I love and my young daughter has grown to love as well (we may or may not have watched it half a dozen times this month). While she normally gets a bit agitated in traffic (she will seriously yell at me to “go, Mom!” if a red light lasts too long), she didn’t even notice: she was happily singing along with the soundtrack, recounting the adventures of Jack and Sally and Santa as the songs progressed.

Her younger brother usually fusses when the car isn’t moving, but he was giggling and clapping along, amused by her antics, despite the bumper-to-bumper boredom.

As traffic finally started moving again, I realized that traffic hadn’t actually been a curse. It was a blessing. The last song on the track ended just before I dropped the kids off at their school, meaning we got to enjoy the entire thing, in one sitting, as it was meant to be enjoyed. And the last track on the soundtrack comes from the original poem and isn’t included in the regular cut of the movie.

What did I miss? An extra hour to grade papers in my room before class. In short, nothing in the grand scheme of my life. But what I gained were memories and smiles and the chance to share the magic of Christmas converging with Halloween as we drove past houses decked out for October 31 at a snail’s pace—in other words, the traffic allowed us to look in detail at every aspect of every Halloween display. From the “purple house” with capricious and generous Halloween décor to the house with the yard decorated like a horror movie, it was a fun way to spend the morning, all with the backdrop of Jack Skellington singing.

It was a nice way to transition into the month of thankfulness.

In my past life, I used to keep track of how many hours of my life was wasted by my drive to work and wonder how that time could be better spent. Today was a reminder of the importance of counting blessings instead of minutes. Sometimes when things don’t go the way they should, they’re actually going the way they’re supposed to.

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