Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009 - Finding Santa

Alarm goes off at 6am. I want to sleep a little more, but I know I have to get out of bed. It is a travel day. Christmas Eve. Flight scheduled for 10:45am. I normally choose 6am flights when traveling to KY, but flights during the holiday were so expensive this year that I chose the morning flight that cost me less than $1000. After making and stowing my Murphy bed, I went to the computer to check the weather and flight status. Weather in Memphis was less than desirable, but the flight was statused "on schedule." I went to the bathroom and put my contacts in then lathered up the shaving cream for a pre-shower shave. I needed to exfoliate so I wanted a smooth face when the beads sluffed off the dead, dry skin to reveal the younger looking skin underneath. With the shaving and showering completed, I headed back to the living area to get dressed. Of course I couldn't resist checking the weather again. It had been updated almost two hours before, but that was an hour later than when I got up. There was still a 90% chance of rain for my arrival time, but now wind advisories had been added to several hour markings leading up to my arrival. Fun times. NYC was beautiful and clear. I decided to be positive. I headed out of my apartment with the sun just beginning to come up. The sky in the west was a lovely lavender. It was crisp and quiet. Around 56th Street I just began to feel a sense of peace. I started to feel positive energy and light exude from me and shine around me. My choice to be positive and courageous, in the face of the fear I felt flying into a possible thunderstorm with high winds, was working. So far. I knew it would be a constant effort to keep my fear at bay.

Thirty-five minutes after leaving my apartment I was off the train at Astoria Blvd and waiting for the bus that would take me to LaGuardia Airport. My coat, with scarf wrapped tightly, along with gloves and cap try to keep the cold from biting into me. Three buses later with toes and fingers frozen I was on an oh-so-crowded bus to the airport.

The security line was long, but broken into multiple lines so it moved quickly. My life was compartmentalized into two bags, a bin for my coat and liquids, a bin for my boots, and a small black bowl for my belt. Oh the life of travel. It's not leisure anymore. I was at the gate with two hours to spare. My flight still "on schedule."

As I looked around the airport I couldn't help but notice all the babies. More babies than I've ever noticed before. I also couldn't help but notice that all flights seemed to be full according to the overhead announcements. I remember the days when I could fly to Paducah for $239 round trip and have two seats to myself. How travel has changed. It's become much more stressful. I think half the battle for me is just getting to the airport. Taxi, Super Shuttle, bus, and subway are all options. Since moving into an apartment of my own, I've gotten more frugal with my money. I will take the Bolt Bus to Boston instead of the Amtrak and I've started to take the subway to the airport. I buy a monthly Metrocard for $89 so the trip on the subway costs me nothing extra. Seems like something I should have been doing for years.

Still waiting at the airport I turned to HLN, sister network to CNN. I've always found the HLN morning anchors very animated so it's easy to get caught up in their morning routine. The story was of a little girl's wish to Santa. Her daddy is serving in Iraq and she asked Santa to bring him home for Christmas. He then walked around the corner in the mall where Santa was hearing wishes. Her mother had known for about three months that he would be home. She wanted to keep it a surprise but almost confessed when it seemed her daughter didn't want to celebrate Christmas without her daddy. Then the little girl told her mom that she was going to ask Santa to bring him home. Her mom decided to keep the secret and make it the ultimate surprise. I am one who knows surprises. Even last year I surprised my mom and dad for Christmas. I had to fight back tears at the airport as I waited for the flight that would take me home to KY to visit my family for the holiday. It's such an emotional time for me. Keeping my positive attitude about getting home as I continued to hear on the news, talk of the storm moving across the South made is very difficult. There were delays reported, but we were on time. Weather is beyond our control. I have so many memories wrapped up in this time of year and the stress of getting home is enough to make one's face break out with pimples.

Boarding began at 10:14am. It took longer to board the plane than to get through security. Full flights'll do that to ya. My seat was changed from 8C to 12D when the attendant scanned me in. Four rows further back but still an aisle. Pretty good since I had no choice in the matter. The overhead bins were full when I got to my seat, but somehow my bag, a duffel, collapsed enough to fit in the available space. How often does that happen? Positive light and energy.

We took off very close to on time. I was shocked. I anticipated, firstly, that we would be just one plane in a line awaiting take off, and secondly, that the Memphis weather might delay us. No such inconvenience. Not only did we take off on time, we landed thirty minutes early. The winds we're not a problem and the rain was just rain. It was a little bumpy while descending, but nothing crazy. I asked for a safe, limited turbulence flight, and I got just that. Thankful is my first name today.

With my family on their way to pick me up, I sat in baggage claim B of the Memphis Delta terminal. Whit, Casey, and I were Covington bound to meet up with my mom, sister, niece, and nephew who were driving from Arlington to meet us at our chosen half way point rendezvous! That destination was the Wendy's. We chose to have a bite to eat before driving to Mom's.

In Mom's car on the way home Dylan tore all the pages out of his Mad Libs book and gave them to me. Abbi and I played brickbreaker. We listened to Christmas music from a Pottery Barn Christmas cd. Abbi had April's Blackberry and recorded a voice note of us singing Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby." Abbi kept saying we're jazzing along with music. We took pictures with my Blackberry camera. Abbi found it difficult to keep her eyes open with my bright flash. That led to many bad photos and lots of laughter. Oh yeah, at one stop sign April and I did a Chinese fire drill. Mom attempted, the wind almost blew her Santa hat off so she got back in the car. The kids looked at us like we were idiots. Maybe the best part of the car ride was using my Blackberry to track Santa for the kids. Thank you Google Maps. They asked me periodically throughout the evening where he was and I always found him. They didn't really know where any of the foreign locales were, but they knew he was flying up in the sky somewhere and would be at their house soon.

When I finally got to my parents' house, I had just about an hour to try and get my presents wrapped before we had to leave for my dad's brother's house for Christmas Eve with my dad's family. I did not get the wrapping accomplished. I managed to get three gifts wrapped. I knew at that moment it was going to be a while before sleep arrived.

Christmas Eve is so magical. The gifts are still beautifully wrapped under the tree. The anticipation of Santa's arrival is in the air. I'm not sure there is another day during the year like it. Sitting in Mom's living room and starring at the tree is not a waste of time, but a way to prolong the moment. We all know the next morning, the peace and beauty of that night will be gone as the gifts are unwrapped and the madhouse of a family gathering begins.

Before going to bed my niece and nephew spread a special mixture of oats and large sugar crystals in the front lawn nearest the house for Santa's reindeer. Oh to be young and so excited again. Who am I kidding, my mom and I are like little kids ourselves at Christmastime. As for me, I wrapped the remaining gifts for my family and took them to my sister's to place under the tree. "Santa" was hard at work. According to Google Maps, Santa had finally arrived in the United States. He was in Ohio, Indiana, then Newark, NJ, and my very own New York, NY.

I slept with the peace and contentment of a child returned home for Christmas. Safe, sound, secure, loved, and happy.