So I missed my flight, and I had no way to get to Iowa in time for church or family celebrations. I took a cab home ($30 more bucks down the drain.) I ran to the grocery store before it closed (I'd thrown out my perishable food. $20 more bucks down the drain.) I spent the rest of the night on the phone to United. They disconnected me six times and were no help to me on the seventh time. Friday, Dec. 22, I was practically in tears as I trudged off to work. (On the bright side, that's one personal/sick day I didn't have to use up.)
That night I accompanied Tom to Dom and Tori's Christmas party. I wasn't quite my normal, gregarious self. Usually, I get all fixed up for parties and am very outgoing. For this one, my skin was broken out from the stress and I didn't have time to do my hair and makeup or change from my work clothes. On top of that, I was depressed about missing my flight and it was raining. I made the best of it and, though I was a bit introverted, we all had fun.
The next day, Dec. 23, I accompanied Tom to a coworker's party. When my flight home fell through, Tom invited me to all these parties and to celebrate with his family. I told him, "I hope it's not bothering you, the way I'm tagging along to everything." He laughed and replied, "I was just thinking, 'I hope she doesn't feel like I'm dragging her to all these parties.' It's like our own Gift of the Magi situation." "Well, the misunderstanding part, not the crushing poverty part." "Exactly!" he exclaimed. At the party, Tom's coworker made a comment about me being Tom's fiancee, and we both nearly choked on our hors d’oeuvres. That's right, people, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Some boyfriends last. Some don't. I like this one a lot more than the last one, but that's no gaurantee. I'm going to make any long-term romantic decisions carefully. I'm reminded of a scene in Brigadoon: One character sings, "But when lassies sit and have no men, oh, how long becomes the night." Fiona replies, "But I fear the night is longer when the lad's not right." My sentiments exactly.
On the 24th, we celebrated with Tom's family. These people know how to eat. His mom made enough cookies to feed and army (pecan, lemon, chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal raisin and ricotta). The meal itself was linguini with calamari tentacles and rings and spungili (I think I've butchered the spelling. Anyway, it's conch.), shrimp cocktail, clams and mussels on the half-shell, baked clams and stuffed artichokes. Then for supper we had lobsters and king crab. The crabs' legs were bigger around than a baby's arm. Anyone who has seen me eat seafood knows I can back away crabs' legs, but I could only eat one of those gigantic things! That night Tom's brothers, Tom and I all camped out in the living room. The next morning breakfast was toast and Christmas Cookies. Then we open presents and Tom rushed me to JFK airport...where I sat for the next six hours.
Again I quote from my letter to United: "The flight that [United Ticket Agents got] me on was delayed significantly, so I didn't arrive home until 10:30 p.m. Christmas Day. In fact, your company booked me on Delta flight 5361 to Des Moines. When it landed for its layover in Cincinnati, I was told the second leg of my flight had already left, and I wouldn't be able to get home until 3 p.m. Dec. 26! It was only when I pressed them that they managed to get me on a United flight from Cincinnati to Chicago and an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Des Moines. My luggage didn't arrive until December 27.
"It was the most stressful traveling experience of my life. Because of your company's management of the situation, I missed every church and family celebration. This was my only opportunity to see some of my relatives this year."
What I didn't include were the details: being driven across a tarmac to make a flight just before the door closed, the other passengers giving me dirty looks (although those looks turned to sympathy due to my obvious asthma attack), crying in various airports (including while I was getting a security pat-down in Cincinnati), and making frantic phone calls on my dying cell phone ("No, Dad, I'm not arriving 10:30 a.m. tomorrow! I'm arriving 10:30 p.m. tonight!")
Mom and Dad were both sick when I got home, so we Dad gave me a quick tour of the improvements on the house and we all went to bed. The next day we rested and tried to recover from the previous day. Wednesday my bag arrived, so I wrapped presents and did laundry. Then I helped my parents empty a semi-trailer full of stuff salvaged from the tornado (the guy who loaned it to us needed it back). That night, we opened presents around the tree.
Thursday I drove to see J.B., Erika and the girls. It was a lot of fun. Courtney has great hand-eye coordination (she rules at peekaboo. J.B. plays a version where she pulls down a blanket to find him.) She's also at a very cuddley stage.
Brooke is smart as a button. She noticed that my hair is longer and lighter that in some pictures we had taken when she was a baby. She answers questions really well, with specific details. (When asked what animals live on Grandma and Grandpa's farm, she responded, "Sheep and...two dogs! Mac and Scooter.") She's also getting to the point where she tells stories, unsolicited. She has a doll named Max ("He's a little girl.") and another named Max's Little Sister. Hee. Brooke has a bag with a butterfly on it. I asked her what it was. She thought hard and exclaimed, "Its...a...BUG!" "Yes," replied, "It's a bug. It's also a butterfly." "A butterfly?" "Yep." The next day I asked her about the bag again. She thought hard and exclaimed, "It's...a...butterwing!"
For posterity, Brooke's favorite movies right now are Mary Poppins (she can sing all the songs, even when they use words like "precocious" and "atrocious.") and The Wizard of Oz. I told her that's a scary movie. She replied, "Erin, it's T.V. It's not real." Undoubtedly, she's repeating something her parents have told her several times, but it still cracked me up. When I put on my black trench coat to leave, she asked if I was a witch. I replied, "I do wear a lot of black, don't I?"
Friday afternoon I went to see Karen, Connor, Hannah, Helen and Unkie. We did a gift exchange. I got a lovely journal, some scrupmtious Choxie and a fairy tale Hannah created for me on the computer. I also got to read the play she wrote. The kids seemed to enjoy their presents (a doodle book for Connor with some cool codes and hints to improve his artistic techniques and a craft book for Hannah that also included some fun recipes). We used Connor's pogo stick. Hannah played a song for me on the piano. We all sat around and chatted.
That night, I joined up with my college suite-mates (the Heritage 11 Suities) for Chinese food and conversation. I had a great time, and I'm glad I got to see them. Kelly surprised me by arriving as Kelly-brown-hair. It's a running joke that she loves dying her hair brown, but it hates staying that way and quickly fades back to its natural blonde.
That basically brings us up to date. Mom and Dad went to a football party. I would have gone, but was given insufficient warning. ("Want to come to a party in half an hour even though you haven't even showered today?" Sorry. I can't get around that fast...at least not happily.)
If all goes well, I'll be back in New York by 1:30 p.m. New Year's Eve. Who knows what the night or the New Year will bring. Here's hoping your holidays were happy and that your New Year is a blessed one for you and your family.