A great Thanksgiving story about two men in search of their own goals, comes together in the most difficult of situations and become lifetime friends in spite of it. John Candy & Steve Martin were perfectly cast for the film. Steve’s immediate disdain for John in the film, came through loud and clear. John, on the other hand, was simply looking for a friend to fill his lonely life.
It occurs to me, as we travel to a different location over the holiday season, there might be someone in need of a friend. We could become a shoulder to cry on. There might be a person who needs help with their luggage or finding a seat or maybe a person who needs calming as the plane takes off or lands.
When I travel alone, I have visions of being held captive by terrorists – trying to use my MacGyver skills (of which I have none) to get out of a tough situation – coming to the rescue and landing the plane myself – even though I can’t parallel park.
Steve Martin was on his way home for Thanksgiving while John Candy was on his way to another sales destination – no family – no wife – no one – a lonely man who simply needed a friend. How many people do you know who are in that situation? They might be alone for this holiday or the next. They may simply need to have a conversation with someone or enjoy a laugh or two.
Steve Martin had a family waiting for him. There was a lovely home with relatives and a choir concert to attend for his daughter. He would be late again. It probably was normal for him to miss many a celebration because of his job. Traveling to and from home was a way of life for him, but it was especially difficult during the holidays.
This overweight, somewhat obnoxious, annoying fellow he was forced to share transportation with eventually grew on Steve. Carrying a huge trunk with samples of shower curtain rings and all his worldly belongings was a task at first, but became a thing which bound them for the duration of their trip.
We don’t always know what’s going on in the mind of a stranger, but as a friendship begins to develop, we often discover that first impressions aren’t always true. When we’re on a timeline – when we have a reason for getting somewhere – when we would do anything to get to our destination, we will do whatever it takes to get there. Even if it means sharing a rented car with a chain smoker who uses the dashboard as a percussion instrument. We might wind up on a bus filled with fellow travelers, singing the theme song from “The Flintstones,” but it will be worth every second knowing that we’ll soon be together with those we love.
Of course in the movies, everything is over the top. A car fire, literally driving into a motel, traveling in the back of a pick up truck during a snow storm and sub zero temperatures are unlikely scenarios in real life, but there is so much truth in the forming of a friendship even during times of need or stress.
In the end, Steve and John arrive in time for Thanksgiving dinner having established that kind of friendship. It’s especially touching because both men come to the realization of how much they needed each other.
Today give thanks for those special people in your life. Even if you can’t be together for one reason or another, thank God for them. They are the people who make you who you are, even with all the flaws.