Packing It In

November 26, 2019

It’s a common writer’s prompt: if you had to leave your house in five minutes, what would you bring? I picture frenzied folks, hurling whole turkeys and lamps and wall hangings into suitcases, venturing out into the cold dark night. And I’m sure, that would be me: grabbing whatever was near at hand and flinging it into a carry-all. I would arrive at my safe place with a print out of a 2012 Sunday School lesson and some hummus (without chips). And that would be sad (especially the chips part).

Clearly we all need to practice before that fateful day! Let’s ready set!

Step one: Locate your luggage. In my house, easier said than done. I have several decent carry-ons, but I’m sure when the moment arrived all I’d be able to find is my mother-in-law’s ancient, beat-up tan suitcase (in which for years Steve has stored extension cords for his shows). But it is still technically something I could use, so…

Step two: Consider your destination. You will obviously pack a little differently for Antarctica and Aruba. But wait…climate change!! Is it a given that it will be cold in the one place and balmy in the other? I think not!! Therefore: snowshoes AND bikinis, parkas AND shorts! By now, Mom Seyfried’s luggage is bursting at the seams. Something’s gotta give! So, of course…

We need to find a BIGGER suitcase…how about my Nana Cunningham’s steamer trunk, circa 1930? Roomier for sure, but so heavy it’d take a village to move the blessed thing. But we are being hypothetical here! So I say we go for it! Even slap some exotic labels on it (Nana’s had one from pre-Castro Havana, as I recall).

Step three: Let’s get deep. If in fact we are leaving home forever, or at least for a weekend, what items simply must accompany us on our journey? I personally wouldn’t dream of travelling without the handwritten journals I kept for my kids when they were little (I am uber-protective of these, because I have this vision of my offspring carelessly tossing them into the trash. Have they no interest in their mother’s priceless musings?). I would also make room for a scented candle. And maybe also a granola bar, because there may well be no Wawa’s where we’re going!

Step four: Final prep. The clock is ticking!! What, finally, makes the cut?

I’m still not sure, but, speaking from experience, I can guarantee:

Whatever I carefully fold, will emerge like a pleated accordion.

I will forget my toiletries, and have to scrounge for toothpaste.

I will pack enough underwear and pajamas for forty years, but forget shoes.

I will gawk jealously at my fellow travelers, who always manage to bring just the perfect stuff.

Maybe it’s good that I have a longer stretch to pack for our spring trip to Europe. It’ll give me time to think harder. Budapest, Prague and Vienna in April? I’m seeing barbells, a straw hat and some beef jerky.












    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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