'Tis the season to gather together

There’s no place like home for the holidays. Unless, of course, you hop in the car and drive to someone else’s home.
Kim Craft and his family packed a Chevrolet Suburban with Christmas presents and luggage, then drove across the country from Hacienda Heights, Calif., to Tupelo.
“We left after my son’s high school soccer game and we drove right through,” Craft said.
That drive turned Floy and Bill Hawkins of Tupelo into happy parents and grandparents for the holiday.
“They’ve never been to our house in Tupelo for Christmas,” Floy Hawkins said. “This is the first time, and we love having them.”
‘Tis the season for families to go to great lengths to see each other. With trunks and bags filled with presents, people have gone from town to town, state to state and time zone to time zone to celebrate the holidays.
Driving wasn’t possible for Kent Anderson and his family from Haleiwa, Hawaii. Plane fare for four can cut into a family’s budget, but Christmas is Christmas.
“They come every year,” said Debra Anderson, Kent Anderson’s mother. “That’s what’s so wonderful.”
“The kids are frequent fliers,” Kent Anderson said, adding that his in-laws live in New Hampshire, so travel is a necessity.
California and Colorado
Kim Craft and his wife, who’s also named Kim, came to Tupelo with Kasey, 17, Kelly, 14 and Kassie, 12. Katie, the 20-year-old, had to stay home for work.
The two Kims did most of the driving, but Kasey pitched in.
“He has his learner’s permit, so he had to log in some hours,” his mother said.
“That’s why it took so long,” his father added, “because we had to drive the speed limit.”
They brought heavy concrete tiles that the family members decorated for their Tupelo relations. On the trip back, they’ll carry a variety of video games and other presents, as well as a number of blankets that they sewed during their Tupelo stay.
Floy Hawkins’ sister, Kate O’Kami, drove from Evergreen, Colo., in her Toyota Tacoma to be a part of the festivities. She estimated that her truck got 30 miles per gallon. The Craft family’s Suburban averaged about 15, but that’s what it took to do Christmas right.
“I’m really glad they came. It’s been so much fun,” Floy Hawkins said. “I just hate that they have to leave.”
Hawaii and New Jersey
Kent and Kendra Anderson took several hops by plane with Kayla, 6, and Karin, 2, from Hawaii to Saltillo.
“So many Christmases, Kent would arrive in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, and it’s 50 degrees outside,” Debra Anderson said.
The Pacific side of the family keeps a stash of winter clothes with Debra and Terry Anderson.
On the other hand, Kent’s brother, Scott Anderson, leaves his winter clothes back home in Budd Lake, N.J. He drove down with his wife, Debi, and four kids, Aliyah, 8, Carley, 6, Jadelyn, 2 and Kadyn, 9 months.
The full house is an extra holiday treat for Debra Anderson’s 6-year-old grand-niece, Ainsley Ryan.
“She gets awfully excited with all the cousins around to play with,” Debra Anderson said.
The travelers have presents to look forward to, plus turkey and dressing.
“I love butter beans,” Kendra Anderson said.
“What they really like is Coca-Cola salad,” Terry Anderson said, and just about everyone in the house rubbed his or her belly.
“Kent comes home for the pistachio cake,” Kendra Anderson said.
But that was an exaggeration on her part. The real reason to take to the skies or to the road is simple: “We’re here to see family,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal