Clan Donaldson Goes to Gettysburg

So we took a quickie trip to Gettysburg this weekend.

And while Mapquest chirpily insists that it’s only 6 hours between our little part of Connecticut and the site of the bloodiest battle in the Civil War, actual results may vary.  By, like, a lot.  But, thanks to the twin wonders of Twilight Zone radio dramas and Instagram, we were able to make it work.  So while you only see picture like this:

those of us in the car were enduring 45 knock-knock jokes (all with “FART!!” as the punchline), Twilight Zone episodes of such lazy writing that even the three year old could figure them out (“the man is really dead and doesn’t know it.  Also, he travelled back in time.”), and 5 separate calls for the pee cup (don’t ask.  really, really, really just go about the rest of your life pretending you didn’t read that).  All nicely montaged into one single Instagram.

You’re welcome.

And the 15 mile traffic jam we were stuck in, with the GPS cruelly insisting that we were a mere 30 miles from our destination is immortalized forever only like this:

If you’re here at Catholic Exchange, spending some of your valuable time reading a blog post written by me, the odds are definitely in my favor that you have, at some point in your life, already been stuck in a traffic jam with tiny children in the car. You know what it smells like in there.  You know the sounds coming from those open mouths.  You recognize the look of terror/desperation in my eyes.

But mercifully we survived.  We met up with my mom and dad who had driven up from Tennessee to see us, and, like any savvy parents, our first stop was the local brew pub.

Hey.  We’re no dummies.  And as hard as it is to believe, not all of us in the party were history buffs, so spending an afternoon looking at a bunch of places like this:

would go over much, much better after a couple of pints.

Lunch had, pints enjoyed, we headed out to the battlefields where the kids were at first jubilant at the sight of actual canons, but then crushed when they learned they couldn’t climb on them.  My dad, who is a Civil War buff if there ever was one, was pressed into service as our tour guide and began explaining the ins and outs of the Confederate Army’s objectives for the battle, and the Union response to it.

And though the kids were still crushed over the realization that they could not use the canons as gymnastic equipment, they listened attentively.  In fact, so attentively did they listen that one of the boys asked their grandfather in wonder, “Grumpy, did you fight in the Civil War?”

Then the conversation drifted off into speculation about the number of ghosts attached to the battlefields, followed by much posturing on the part of the seven year old about being brave enough to take part in one of the ubiquitous ghost tours the city had to offer.

We then thought it a good idea to go arm our children with weapons purchased at the gift shop, and spent a grueling 30 minutes while the kids agonized over such life-altering decisions as, “Do I pick the pistol or the sword?” and “If I get a canteen, should I get Union blue or Confederate grey?  I was born in Memphis, so I should get grey, but I live in Connecticut, so I should get blue.”  Meanwhile, Ken made sure none of the kids broke into the gun display in the hallway and I tried me best to ensure no one walked off with unauthorized (and unpaid for) merchandise.  And all we got in return for our diligence was a three year old who screamed, “Surrender!  Put your hands up!”  and then promptly shot us anyway.

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Cari Donaldson lives on a New England farm with her high school sweetheart, their six kids, and a menagerie of animals of varying usefulness. She is the author of Pope Awesome and Other Stories, and has a website for her farm, Ghost Fawn Homestead.

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