Packing for Thanksgiving: A Child’s Priorities

Hal took it upon himself to pack a suitcase for Thanksgiving. When I got home from a half-day at work Wednesday, Daryl dragged a suitcase big enough for both his and Hal’s clothes to me and said, “This is Hal’s suitcase.”

No one else had packed. Daddy had not yet told them to, so of course, the older two had not done so.

“He’s not getting an entire suitcase to himself,” I told Daryl. “Here, let me have it.”

I opened the suitcase and started taking out clothes. If you’ve ever wondered what a five year old would pack for a three day excursion without parental guidance, here it is:

4 pairs of socks
1 undershirt
1 set of pajamas (mismatched top and bottom)
5 T-shirts
5 long sleeve T-shirts
5 pairs of long pants
1 very large water bottle, full, with the straw tucked in the air hole

No underwear. The omission made me smile as I remembered one of my little brother’s antics when he was even younger than Hal. We were going on a float trip down a river with some of my stepdad’s friends. He and my mother had been dating for a fairly short time. My brother was maybe three years old.

The group was packing the cars in our driveway. Most people were leaving that day although my mom, brother, and I were slated to join them the next day. My brother was excited by all the commotion. He started begging to go so Bill said, “Well, go pack your bags!” My brother ran into the house, grabbed a paper sack, and stuffed a single pair of underwear and his swimsuit into it.

Obviously, Hal has other priorities. The undershirt struck me as odd since he never wears one. They are for wearing under button-down dress shirts and he had packed none of those. Jane later entered the room and remarked that all the clothes sitting there looked like the laundry she had folded and asked Hal to put away.

I repacked with fewer shirts and pants and a full complement of underwear. The next morning, as we prepared to leave, I was frantically looking for my travel phone charger. As part of the search, I looked in the side pocket of Hal’s (now his and Daryl’s) suitcase and discovered that he had packed that pocket as well.

There were half a dozen Hot Wheel cars, a Batman action figure, a couple of action figures I didn’t recognize, and a few other small toys. But something else was in there that impressed me very much. I had added a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a hairbrush to the suitcase when I repacked. I had not, however, remembered to grab his allergy medicine. He had.

The boy has his wits about him. And he knows what’s important to him. Allergy medicine that minimizes his coughing at night: important. Clean underwear: what’s wrong with the pair I’m wearing?

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