The move was precipitated by the birth of our daughter, our third child. We were rapidly outgrowing our contemporary style two-bedroom with a loft house. So in August of 1992, we put the house on the market and began our search for another home. We found the house we are now living in pretty quickly and for a few days, it looked as if the seller would buy our house. (I remember spending the night of my 39th birthday on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor so it was clean for the showing the next morning.) However, the seller was going through a contentious divorce and the husband didn't really want to sell. So he refused our offer which also meant the wife wouldn't be able to buy our home and we kept looking. Every other house paled in comparison to the one we originally wanted. Finally, we offered the full asking price and when the real estate agent told the husband he would still be liable for her commission if he didn't accept the offer, we had an agreement. It was signed on October 31st.
In the meantime, we had sold our house to a couple who were expecting their first baby. They both worked, but had a lot of income from tips and commissions. That meant they had some trouble getting a mortgage and still didn't have one by around December 10 or so. Our wonderful real estate agent who obviously wanted this sale to go through drove the couple to Maryland on December 14 and sat in the loan office to help them get a mortgage. He was successful! I took the call in the office at my school around 3:30 that afternoon and immediately called my husband to tell him that we were indeed moving the next day. He went out to dinner that night with clients about an hour away from us and I went home to take care of our three children and move boxes out of the basement into the garage.
Fortunately, it was cold, but not raining or snowing on December 15th that year. I waited at the bus stop with our older son who was in first grade at the time. Since our new house was only a mile away, he didn't have to change schools and would be going to school on his old bus and coming home on the new bus. Then it was off to do a final inspection on our house and continue helping the movers. We were already exhausted by the time we went to settlement in the afternoon. We settled on the old house first and remained at the table to buy the new one. There was a heartstopping moment when the transfer agent (or whatever his role was) said, "You need $XXX for the house" in a tone that implied we didn't have enough. I must have gone pale because he quickly reassured us that everything was OK.
We were back at the new house in time to watch the bus carrying our son whiz by. Our sitter hopped into her car and followed it down the hill. It took a little bit for her to convince the driver that she could take our son, but she got him off the bus, brought him home and then had to leave. Our daughter was six days shy of being a year old and was not walking yet. I carried her as much as possible, but had to put her down sometimes to give my arms and back a break. She crawled around and generally got in the way of the movers. The highchair hadn't arrived yet so I had no place to put her down safely. On top of that, it was cold because the doors were open all the time. Finally, I bundled the kids into the car and went to the bank to get money to tip the movers and to get dinner at McDonalds. We brought the food home and took it to the basement (which was carpeted, thank goodness). The four of us huddled in the corner with our coats on as I took burgers, chicken nuggets and fries out of the bags. My mind was racing with thoughts of unpacking and how I was going to get three kids settled into their beds that night when my son, who was 3 1/2 at the time, threw out his arms and declared, "There's nothing like a picnic!" And thus, a family tradition was born.
Every December 15th since then we have had a fast food dinner, sometimes in the basement, sometimes not. Our two younger children don't remember the move, but they love the story. Tonight my husband and I will be the only ones home for dinner. We haven't decided if we'll have fast food (probably not), but we will pause to remember that crazy day and to renew our promise to each other that we will not move again until it's time to go to the nursing home.