Even though I swore I would not publish a blog more than once or twice a week during the holiday season, here we are in Georgia after eating a pepperoni pizza and drinking a glass of nice white Pinot Grigio for lunch, and what do you know, here arrives a blog, more predictable than Santa Claus.
We are with Barry’s parents. His brother, Craig, and nephew, Alex, shall arrive at the house for Christmas Eve dinner tonight. You’ve got me right. Today is Christmas Eve. I dare you to dispute it. I know you think–like the rest of the world–that Christmas Eve is tomorrow night. Perhaps it is for all you. For us, it’s tonight.
It’s tonight, because tomorrow is Christmas. (What? you ask, shocked. Tomorrow is CERTAINLY not Christmas!) You are wrong. Tomorrow is Christmas because we say it is. We’re a day early because on Dec. 25 when you might be opening presents we’ll be winging our way back to our Little House in the Big Woods. That shall be the Day after Christmas to us. Heaven knows but the rest of y’all Christmas-celebrators are a day behind.
OK, here we are. Near Athens, Georgia. It’s a green, green Christmas. It was a rainy Christmas week. The rain poured from the heavens and the good shepherds of Bethlehem got soggy in front yards everywhere. Do you want to know how many years it’s been since we celebrated Christmas with Barry’s parents?
I am ashamed to say.
Let’s put it this way. Last time we celebrated Christmas with his parents our daughter was four years old and wore a Swedish Saint Lucia crown and delivered breakfast in bed to them. (Scandinavian traditions are big in the Upper Peninsula.) She was four years old. That was 21 years ago.
It’s lucky that we’re here.
I want to tell you the story about our departure from L’Anse last Tuesday.
We were aiming for Atlanta by way of Detroit, after a knee doctor appointment in Marquette. We brought the knee doctor, the PA and his nurse Christmas present jams from the Keweenaw Peninsula. Barry limped in to get his third shot in his right knee.
I was friggin’ irritable because a friend–who does not read this blog–wrote me an email critiquing this blog format. Poor lady. She won’t do that again. I told her she was not qualified to critique if she didn’t read! (Yes, Santa, Kathy wasn’t 100% nice this year, but please bring her presents anyway.) Kathy has 25% more readership since the current blog format, thank you. The lady in question wrote back to apologize but Kathy was already winging toward the Detroit airport in not-so-friendly spirits.
That’s because she lost her car keys in the snowy L’Anse darkness Tuesday morning. She did this between the time she left her car (which was actually her husband’s car with his spare set of keys) and went into the coffee shop to order a nice, tall Sumatra Java. As she returned to the car, she started to turn the ignition. Except she had no keys. She looked under the seat, over the seat, around the seat, on the dashboard, every step between the car and the coffee shop AND in the coffee shop. No keys.
She had to call said husband at his newspaper office a block away and ask to borrow his other set of keys. Said husband was not happy because he was dealing with deadline situations and we had to leave town by 11 a.m.
Finally, as the Georgia-bound couple prepared to fly the friendly skies toward the parents, Kathy stopped for the second time at the coffee shop (with a headache and little faith) and whimpered that an eye be kept open for the lost keys.
Coffee shop owner, Bob, waved them in front of Kathy’s blood-shot eyes.
“Here,” he said, and named the person who found them in a crack on the sidewalk near the coffee shop.
That’s how my day started Tuesday.
Here’s how it progressed. We left Marquette at 5:30 p.m. We knew we had only 36 minutes to traverse the Detroit airport before boarding the Atlanta-bound plane.
We reached the Marquette runway when our plane stopped.
The nice pilot came on the loudspeaker.
“We’re sorry,” he lamented, “the traffic controllers in Detroit want us to wait twenty minutes before leaving. Too many planes are in the air above Detroit and we need to wait.”
I stared at Barry, askance. This was not good. We only had 36 minutes as it was to get between our faraway commuter gate and Terminal A, where the Big Boys flew, and now our flight was axed by twenty minutes. Not so ho-ho-ho.
We landed in Detroit and disembarked twenty minutes before our next plane was due to take off. We had about a mile to go between terminals.
I must back up. I had requested wheelchair service in Detroit for said limping husband who has had two arthroscopic knee surgeries since October. He had agreed without macho prevarication, saying it would be an adventure to be in the wheelchair line-up with the little old ladies and their walkers!
We bundled him in the wheelchair as the plane landed, covered him with his suitcase, and waited for the attendant to wheel him the length of the airport. No go. The woman behind the desk said we must wait. But I could wheel him if I wanted.
I threw another carry-on suitcase beneath the wheelchair and took off running with less than 15 minutes to go. Your blogger had never pushed a wheelchair in her life.
Man, did your blogger run!
Man, was it EXCITING!
Faster than fast, Kathy drove that wheelchair, bumping up and over moving sidewalks. Barry held on for his life.
Two minutes into the sprint, an airport employee appeared.
“Can I do this?” he asked.
“YES!” I hollered.
He grabbed the wheelchair while I gave panting instructions: Gate A-18.
It was still a long way away.
“Don’t worry,” he shouted, “I’ve never missed a flight yet. I do this for a living!”
“Can you run through the tunnel and up the escalator?” he asked me, “and we’ll meet you on the other side of the elevators near Gate 18?”
I ran for my life. Wondered briefly, for the safety of the husband, and the fact that he had our boarding passes clutched in his hands.
Sprinted down the tunnel. Ran up the escalator, lugging our backpack and camera. Pumped furiously down the terminal toward the moving sidewalks, jogging between laid-back passengers who didn’t care when their plane took off. Gasped for breath, but never stopped running.
After fifteen minutes of sprinting–when I thought passing out might be the best option–I looked up to see Said Husband and Wheelchair Operator running alongside the moving sidewalks.
“Jes’ up ahead!” he shouted.
I later learned he said to Barry, “They’s you wife! She’s stiff-armin’ and jukin’ people out of the way! Man, can that lady run! She’s makin’ good time!”
I saw him jump up in the air with one leg as he discovered that our gate-keepers were still present. Even though the jetway to the plane had been locked, the Delta agents still awaited, finishing last-minute paperwork. Our wheelchair-pusher was covered with sweat. Kathy was nearly comatose, but jerkily covering the last ten yards to paydirt.
We were the last travelers let on the jet for Atlanta. Barry gave his attendant a healthy tip. Kathy couldn’t stop hyper-ventilating. We found places to fit our suitcases and dropped, exhausted, into our seats.
We had made it!
Later, we discovered had we missed our flight our options would have involved getting to Atlanta via Memphis or La Guardia. Or waiting until the following morning.
We’re now in green Georgia. It rained like crazy for two days. There was actually a tornado warning somewhere nearby last night. Some of you might recall our last trip to Georgia in April where we hid in the bathtub as the weather sirens screamed and almost 200 tornadoes killed hundreds across the Southeast.
Tonight is Christmas Eve for us. Tomorrow is our Christmas. On Dec. 25 we’ll be headed back home to the Upper Peninsula. I’m hoping the snow holds off until our return. (I’m also hoping for a less exciting day than last Tuesday. Please, Spirit of Christmas… We like our green Christmases when we’re traveling…)
P.S. I gotta go now! My mother-in-law wants me to set the table. Enjoy your holidays!