If things had gone as planned, I’d be boarding my flight at this exact moment instead of curling up for a nap. With complete honesty, I can say that either way, it feels like I’m winning.
I had been looking forward to my trip west for months. You know how I love the desert, and a dose of holiday vitamin d is always a treat.
The trip had been ticketed twice. The first time on JetBlue, refunded to me after the departure time changed significantly after booking, the second time using a United voucher from another planned trip to Europe that had been cancelled. Twice.
As my departure date finally got closer, my commitment to the trip flagged. Omicron is blowing up and my patience for people who don’t wear masks correctly is most definitely waning. It seems that every time I’m in a public situation (picking up my tenderloin for Christmas Eve dinner, meeting a friend for coffee at the bagel place), there’s one person defiantly not wearing a mask.
My middle son tested positive for Covid the week before Christmas.
It makes me want to punch them.
The weather forecast for my time in the desert also didn’t look great. In fact, it looked dismal – cool and rainy. One of the great appeals of winter travel is to increase opportunities for being outdoors, those conditions, though, didn’t sound promising. Or fun.
My friend who hosts me when I come to Palm Springs, called to say she would understand, based upon the forecast, if I wanted to reschedule. I took a look at options for rescheduling to April, a time of the year the weather would most certainly be better.
I ordered some cute cotton clothes from Rent the Runway to pack in my carry on only luggage.
And had a precautionary pre-travel covid pcr test done.
I considered canceling, then concluded that I didn’t have to make a decision until the 24th. I also spent time wondering when I had grown into being a person who was blasé about wether or not she was flying across the country for a week. This week.
On the 23rd, I started packing after deciding that if I had a chance to go somewhere and spend time with someone important to me, I was going.
Of course, I was going.
When I awoke on the 24th, I read about hundreds of flights having been canceled because of the impact of the new variant on travel industry employees. I had a sense of where this might be going. Or maybe I should say not going.
My Christmas Eve day was tightly scheduled with errands and seeing a couple of friends for a quick visit. I brought my quarantining son his presents and a portion of filet mignon for him to cook and enjoy for dinner. I picked up some baked goods and went to the credit union.
The last task before I headed home was to lay in some produce for my son, who would be minding the pets and the house while I was going to be away. As I placed avocados, mangos and a pineapple on the conveyor belt, my phone trilled with a text message.
My departure flight had been cancelled and rescheduled for an impossible for me time, and a second layover, a day later than my original reservation.
I’m done fighting with the universe. After nearly two years of canceled reservations from a pandemic that has the world playing Whack-a-mole, my ability to accept defeat has grown immensely. I called my friend in California and said I hoped to see her in April.
The pace of my afternoon shifted. I took the dog for a long walk on slushy sidewalks, greeting everyone I encountered with a sincere Merry Christmas. I thought about how wonderful it felt to be in a place where I felt so happy and content that it didn’t matter where I was physically.
My smile was genuine.
On the way home, there was a little bottle of bubbles I kept stashed in the pocket of my coat between sips. I felt festive and at ease. I took a hot bath with a stemmed glass holding a couple of sips of one of my favorite California Zinfandels, Biale Black Chicken.
There was dinner with two of my sons in person, and one via FaceTime, exchanging of presents and my nodding off to the Ted Lasso Christmas episode from Season 2. It was relaxed and nicely paced and, my God, did we laugh.
Being home for Christmas can mean many different things to many different people. This year, for me, it means being comfortable with who you are, wherever you are. It’s about knowing that acceptance isn’t a weakness, but instead one of life’s great strengths.
Just keep looking toward the light.
Merry Christmas – from my home to yours. Wherever you are.