Christmas is a time to be with the ones you love – often through gritted teeth and bitten tongues. I flew over to New Jersey to be with my mom this past Christmas (’12). Flying is without a doubt something that you have to have a good sense of humor about – otherwise it’s even more miserable for everyone.
It started out kinda nice when I ran into my friend Sean at the airport in Missoula. I ended up getting there way early – before the ticket counter even opened – so was sitting and listening to someone play the piano. 5am on Christmas Eve – never too early to play the piano in an airport! But she was getting paid to play, so it’s not like it was some random person. ..Anyway.. While I’m sitting there I see Sean hustle up to the self check-in, only to find out he missed his flight after his car wouldn’t start – it was about 12 degrees that morning. He turns around, sees me and sits down next to me while he makes a few phone calls to try to find a way to pay for a re-booking fee. It was gonna be $40. Luckily, I had taken out some traveling money, and had just enough to pay for his re-booking fee and have enough to cover my checked bag fee – if they wouldn’t waive it with my Military ID – it’s a retiree dependent, so sometime airlines won’t take it. I’ll actually come back to that later..
So I tell him I can cover him no problem. He only gets to fly down for the day before he has to be back at work up here on the 26th, so it was the least I could do for a friend at Christmas. During all this, the ticket attendant has come into view and has told Sean that she’ll help get him on the next flight out [my flight] in a few minutes when the check-in counter is actually open. So she passes by again and we tell her that I offered to pay for his fee so he can go home for Christmas – and of course she’s thrilled and ogles over what a great friend I am. Suffice to say we more or less made a new friend with her over the course of this roughly hour-long encounter. So when we finally get up to the counter and he’s answering her question about which tablet [or something] is best and I’m getting out my wallet to pay, suddenly his re-booking fee has been waived and she gives me a subtle little wave to put my money away. Even when she had to call for help for a second she said “the fee has been paid..”. The Spirit of Christmas truly was in the air that morning 🙂
As we parted ways at his destination – only a layover for me – sadly the warm fuzzy feeling did too. …that came out wrong… let’s say it felt more like any other winter day rather than Christmas Eve..
I’ve never liked New Jersey. So when I got down there, all the feelings of ‘I hate it’ and ‘lets just truck through this so I can go home’ came back. I’ll try to sum this up and keep it short and to the point – whatever petty problems you have with family (or even where they are), put it aside at Christmas. Give them a hug and a “Merry Christmas” – especially if that’s all you have to give. Trust me, you’ll hate yourself soon after you leave and regret it many months later if you don’t. My mom’s been going through a tough time lately and when I was down there ended up getting sad and saying she ‘didn’t even get a hug and a merry christmas’. I thought about it hard for a few minutes and realized, she was right. I fully intended to that [X-mas] morning, then just didn’t. I hate myself for reverting back to a whiny child to this day. Never take your loved ones for granted. Even if you don’t get along.
I love my mom to death, we just have starkly different personalities. If she were my friends’ mom, I probably wouldn’t go over there too often. It was the Atlantic City area, and she insisted on taking me out and showing me the damage and continued clean-up effort from super-storm Sandy. I’m like any other day I wouldn’t have minded as much, but on Christmas?! Really? No offense to anyone who lived through it, but it’s just depressing. Her original idea for having me come out was to bring my camera and do a documentary on people who were still displaced. I’m like I can’t in all good conscience fly out there and take up a hotel room that those people should be staying in [for free, if not a severely discounted rate], stick a camera in their face and go “how does it feel to be displaced on Christmas?” I just can’t. ..I did bring my camera though and got a few good shots..