December 25, 2008

Christmas in airports.

Last Christmas, my scheduled flight to Austin -- where both my sons lived -- got canceled, the rescheduled flight got canceled, and it became impossible to book a flight that would get me to Austin in time for Christmas. It was 5 p.m., 2 days before Christmas, when that happened, and I decided I needed to throw my bags in the car and drive the whole way -- 1200 miles. I made a thermos of coffee and, drinking a cup, tried to think how far I could get that night and whether I could be sure to get to Austin by the end of the next day, Christmas Eve. But it was icy in Wisconsin. They were saying don't drive anywhere unless you have to, and I pictured myself struggling over Route 151 around Dubuque, where it seems so lonely at night, even in summer, and kicking myself for having this stupid, grandiose idea of The Heroic Cross-Country Drive to Save Christmas, so I dumped out the thermos, unpacked my bag, and nursed a humble feeling of resignation toward spending Christmas alone for the first time in my life.

I blogged it only tangentially, here, last Christmas Day:
Merry Christmas.

I hope you have a happy Christmas, if you're celebrating Christmas. Is anyone here not celebrating Christmas today? If so, is it because you never celebrate Christmas or is this year different for some reason? Are you experiencing Christmas woes? For Christmas solace, congregate here.
I was "not celebrating Christmas today," because by then, I'd rescheduled Christmas for January 25th, when I did go to Austin.

But now it's Christmas 2008 -- 2008, the year with 2 Christmases -- and I'm happily in Madison and not alone -- though I am the only one awake, which makes for good blogging time. And I see that many people are stranded in airports:
Tom Waltz, his wife, Kristina, and their two daughters played a Christmas Eve game of Crazy Eights in a corner at O'Hare International Airport, trying to forget the past four days of flight delays and cancellations that spoiled their holiday plans.

The family from Vancouver, Wash., tried to fly out of Portland, Ore., on Saturday, but a blast of snow and ice kept them from getting a flight for two days. On Wednesday evening, they hunkered down for their second night at O'Hare, awaiting a Christmas Day flight to Miami, where they hoped to catch a Caribbean cruise on Saturday.

"It stinks," said 11-year-old Samantha Waltz. "We're playing cards to get our mind off of things."
Aw, Samantha, some day you'll think fondly of the time your family was all together and you played Crazy Eights on the carpet in an airport. It's a nontraditional Christmas celebration, but then, so is a Caribbean cruise. And maybe this family doesn't even celebrate Christmas. I guess missing one's cruise pretty much sucks too -- or stinks, as the nice kids say.

Merry Christmas to all, wherever you are, whatever religion or nonreligion you are. Are you reading this blog while stranded in some airport? I acknowledge your disappointment. The time in airports is also part of life, though it's one of those parts we wish away. Perhaps the happiest moment of your life will be spent in an airport. Perhaps the happiest moment of your life will be spent in an airport because you were delayed. On Christmas.


john said...

Many years ago, I along with hundreds of other people were stuck in the Denver Airport the afternoon of Christmas Eve by weather. It looked like a night to be spent on the floor.

An adult choir was stuck as well. They formed up, started singing Christmas carols, and then broke up into small groups of three or four and moved through the concourse getting everyone else to join in. The normal "stranger" barriers started giving way to a "we're all in this together" spirit. In between carols we started talking. Frayed tempers repaired themselves.

It's been 30+ years. I still remember that Christmas Eve fondly.

Bob W. said...

Merry Christmas, Ann.

We chose not to travel this year, and the kids just finished opening their gifts.

Very Peaceful.

Now I am hoping the Millennium Falcon does not require much assembly, because we promised to tackle it after breakfast. . .

Darcy said...

Merry Christmas, Althouse!

Merry Christmas, all.

Ron said...

Bob W., if it's the $475 5000 piece Lego Millennium Falcon...there goes the rest of your day!

Merry Christmas, my most favorite Althouse! I am stranded alone in my living room, sans people. Avgas is not needed for the whole long isolation thing.

I shall later go to my favorite Chinese restaurant for brunch with the towns Asian and Jewish co-religionists in the worship of Hot and Sour Soup!

Anonymous said...

Ann, you must have a better disposition than I do. I've been stuck in airports many times in my life and not once do I remember fondly. Waiting in airports, I think, must be a lot like being in jail, except the food is not so good.

Donald Douglas said...

"Are you experiencing Christmas woes? For Christmas solace, congregate here."

I remember reading this. I must be an Althouse junky.

Hope your Christmas is not lonely this year.

Big Mike said...

Prof. Althouse -- each year always has a second Christmas in January. The Eastern Orthodox Christmas is January 7th.

Our family has typically had decent luck with holiday travel, even though we had to fly into and out of Midway or O'Hare to visit our extended family of parents and aunts and uncles and sisters and cousins and niece. We got stuck a few times -- how not with Chicago's winter weather? -- but it helped that my wife insisted on packing lots of extra disposable diapers and extra formula when the boys were very little, so the times we were stuck for several hours in an airport wasn't the disaster it could have been.

Soon we'll be hitting the road to visit my mother-in-law. It's a 3 hour drive but at her age we won't have many more opportunities for Christmas with her.

Merry Christmas back to you, john, Bob W, Darcy, Ron and Prof. Althouse.

Cabbage said...

Merry Christmas Ann,

I'm only half celebrating today; my Christmas doesn't come for another 13 days, as Big Mike says. But since half of my family does celebrate today, I'm prepping for a day of relatives and italian food.

Celebrating Christmas on the 7th has a number of advantages, and I recommend it to everyone. The crass commercialism gets out of the way, you get to take advantage of the after-christmas sales , you've got an entirely legitimate reason to skip work, and (depending on the Orthodox church you pick--avoid that atonal greek chanting and head for something slavic) the music is friggin' fantastic.

I wish a very merry Christmas to everyone. May all your nog be eggy.

Meade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
save_the_rustbelt said...

This is the first Christmas ever that the wife and me have no family with us - no parents, no children, no grandchildren - very spooky.

To compensate, my wife is doing an extra shift so a nurse can be with her children, and I did a couple of shifts in the church nursery - I think I will stick to college-aged children (the girls in their frilly dresses were doing acrobatics and giving orders to the boys - hmmm).

But starting tomorrow we have 9 straight days of children and grandchildren - yahoo!!

Health care note: If you have a loved one in a hospital, assisted living or nursing home please visit, it means a great deal.

Paddy O. said...

Merry Christmas!!

Simon said...

Merry Christmas, Ann - and to all the little community here. :)

Meade said...

"Perhaps the happiest moment of your life will be spent in an airport. Perhaps the happiest moment of your life will be spent in an airport because you were delayed. On Christmas."

And perhaps the happiest moment of your life will be spent -- because accommodations became dis-accommodated -- in a situation of no vacancy, no way -- feeling delayed, disappointed, dejected, and refused.

But perhaps you'll be somewhere where for some reason you are able to welcome into the world a new born baby... wrapped in rags and lying on a bed of mulch somewhere away, far away, like say, inn a homeless shelter or even just a manger.

And maybe you will find a way to suck it up, to pull yourself together and take a different view, an optimistic view, and see it for what it truly is--a gift like no other gift ever. In fact, it's the one big present you always really really wanted but never quite got...

for Christmas.

Merry Christmas all... t.... house.

Simon Kenton said...

Our daughter has been working on an MS in the ocean off East Africa. So by sail, bus, and about 3 airlines she got home yesterday, only having to spend one extra night in a 'quiet room' in Doha and one in Washington DC. Despite exhaustion and jet lag, she was still ready to go out and reacquaint with all her friends till all hours. One of her brothers will be in momentarily and we'll have Christmas morning breakfast; I will need hours at the gym to metabolize it all. If a cliche is a fossil insight or sentiment, I'm liking the chance to peer back through these particular cliches into their inspirations - we're a family.

Every day at work I see people who spent long years using drugs, alcohol, narcissism, and savagery to destroy any kindly relations with their families. Once those connections are irretrievably dissolved, there's not much left; the human form remains for a while but its essence has corroded. "Say a prayer for Lefty, too."

rhhardin said...

I used to go to airports to read on Christmas, owing to McDonald's being closed. The airport restaurant always had coffee and a table open.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Merry Christmas and other holidays to Ann and all.

Usually part or all of my Christmases are somewhat solitary affairs, so finding myself in an airport might be kinda fun. Then too, I like airports, and buying stuff (like food) at airports.

Joan said...

Meade, that was lovely. Thank you.

I'm not alone, but still a little lonely -- my husband's visiting his parents for a few days, we took him to the airport after the flurry of gift-giving this morning. The kids are off happily in their own worlds (my daughter is video-calling her cousins across the country) and don't need me. It's raining outside and we'll all pretty tuckered. All in all, everyone's pretty happy, and that's good.

Merry Christmas all. May any snow be light, fluffy, and easily removed.

Christy said...

Merry Christmas. I've had a great day eating well, assembling gifts, getting pounded in the Wii boxing arena, watching Dr. Who Christmas episodes.... May yours be as satisfying.

Meade said...

You're welcome, Joan. Thank you for saying so.