This is the first Thanksgiving in two years that my husband and I have been able to return to one of our favorite cities in the world, Cleveland, Ohio, and share Thanksgiving weekend with my in-laws. The tradition was stopped first by our move to Green Bay and then by the pandemic, but we did not allow that to change our minds this year. We missed the city and the people. We needed to go home.
Let me start by saying that I have never been a frequent flyer. I’ve been on less flights in my time, and many of those were as much as three years behind me when I prepared to fly to Cleveland on Thanksgiving day with my husband. My bags were heavy on my weak shoulders. I was anxious and excited. The drive down to O’Hare airport in Chicago from Green Bay was an easy one. The worst was yet to come.
The Thanksgiving Day parade was on the television sets behind the bar while we sat down for a beer from the Adams Street Brewery in Chicago. Even on all of the other flights I had taken, I didn’t let myself have a beer in the early morning wait. Something about Thanksgiving made it seem okay, and I thought it would help with the nerves. Little did I realize that this location was a good place to eat and drink, but also to talk to other travelers about their lives.
We met some interesting people in the hour and some change that we sat at the window side area of the Berghoff’s bar, watching Thanksgiving parade floats go by on the TV. A local family flying out to Colorado after a cousin asked to host there instead, and they obliged. A man from New Orleans who had his flight out of Miami cancelled and then rerouted into Chicago. We talked football and travel and beer.
The short moments beside that bar were a strong reminder to me of the things we’ve missed out on in the pandemic. Community with strangers. No one was rude or terrible to anybody else at the side of that bar. We all just wanted to get home for the holiday, and sharing that commonality made everyone feel like a friend.
I’ll never be a fan of the actual flying part of travel, but I do appreciate getting to Cleveland in 45 minutes rather than another five hours of driving after leaving Chicago. Holiday travel proved to be one of the few chances I’ve had to connect with other human beings outside of my immediate circle since the beginning of the pandemic, and it’s no wonder that this is one of the things we’ve missed the most in this long stretch of careful isolation and concern.
We had a wonderful time both at the Berghoff Cafe Bar and in Cleveland itself. Expect some travel restaurant reviews in the coming weeks, dispersed among some of the backlog that I haven’t gotten around to posting prior to the trip. I hope you all also have a pleasant and comfortable Thanksgiving with your families. If you chose to stay at home again this year, I hope you found your own little traditions to carry on into the future. We needed this holiday after the last two years.
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