When I was little, we almost always drove down to North Carolina to visit my mom's family for Thanksgiving.
I hated the drive. It was about four hours or so, and I was not a good passenger. I was prone to carsickness (I still am, if I sit in the back seat) and my brother and I got on each others' nerves any time we were thrown together for more than a half-hour or so.
I honestly don't know how my parents managed to do that drive several times a year without killing one or both of us.
But there was one thing I enjoyed about the Thanksgiving and Christmas trips: the shopping centers. See, this was a state highway drive -- no interstates were convenient to the drive after about the first half-hour -- so we weren't insulated from the towns we passed by noise baffle walls and strategically-placed strips of trees. We passed houses and roadside attractions and farms and a couple-dozen little towns. We stopped at the stoplights and looked at the shopping centers while we waited.
And most of the time, the shopping centers were just like the ones at home. But at Thanksgiving and Christmas... they were decorated. Always. Sometimes the houses were decorated, and sometimes they weren't, but of course the shopping centers always were. Tinsel and garlands and lights. Every shopping center was different, and every new design just added to the thrill and excitement of the holiday season.
This is my last day of work for a while. I'm taking off Wednesday through Monday for the Thanksgiving holiday, and we've already got lots of stuff planned for pretty much the whole weekend.
But I might take some side roads, and remember to appreciate the decorations I see while I'm waiting at the stop lights.