I don’t remember when, but a few years ago I decided that the telling of travel
nightmares stories had to stop. Everyone has been there; the trauma of a lost bag, the horrible cramping of a full flight, endless waiting in numerous airports or the absolute worst: delay on the tarmac! We’ve all been there, we know the horrific experience of a plane without TVs, or running out of ginger-ale the row before yours, or yes, even a crying baby… having to go through it is uncomfortable and annoying, but having to listen to someone else tell their story about it is, in my opinion, worse. You did eventually arrive! your bag most likely did catch up with you, and you ended up thousands of miles from where you started, in a tiny fraction of the time it would have taken anyone from a handful of years before us… So if I don’t want to listen to it, I try not to make people listen to mine. (And I have travelled a LOT, so there are lots of stories) But this past Christmas something different happened in our travels, and because I think God’s hand was holding our itinerary the whole time, I really would like to share it (also, I don’t think anyone actually reads this, so I don’t feel like I am making anyone listen who doesn’t want to)
My husband and I decided that we would spend Christmas with his family, 2,275 kms away from where we live. Almost all his immediate family would be there, and most of them haven’t met our 5 month old daughter. December being the beginning of his crunch time at work, he planned to take a reasonable number of days off and Christmas and New Years perfectly coincided with weekends to mean between Dec 22 and 31 he would only have to take two days off! Perfect, tickets were booked months in advance. And then the emails started coming, our flights changed by a few minutes here and there until suddenly what started out as a 1 hour layover in Minneapolis turned into 8 minutes and our flights needed to be rescheduled, the only flights available were the next day, so our return flight got bumped to Jan 1, and then again to Jan 2. During all this, I realized that almost all my husbands more extended family (Grandmothers, aunts, uncles etc) lived in the twin cities area, and wouldn’t it have been nice if I actually had PLANNED to stay there for a day or two instead of just passing through for an hour. Then these relatives could meet our daughter, and family ties could be strengthened But alas, no such luck, international flights apparently can’t be rebooked easily unless its their decision to change them, not mine. So we accepted it and enjoyed the extra two days with the family and then began our journey home.
Those two days turned out to be such a blessing! With Christmas and all its activities past, we had time to actually just enjoy and get to know the new family members who had married into the family recently, me being one of them, and get past the awkwardness that can sometimes be a part of short visits. Having felt like I truly moved beyond the “in-law” relationship to friendship, I thoroughly enjoyed the longer visit.
Then, happy and refreshed, we headed home. Things were going well, the drive was smooth and our first experience of renting and return a car went flawlessly, our bags were slightly over the 50 lb weight limit but the kind woman waived the $90 fee and did not make us repack at the ticket counter, baby travelled well on the plane, but the 50 minute layover that Delta had arranged for us proved to be insufficient for their notoriously late flights, and we found ourselves stuck in the MSP airport, rebooked for a flight nearly 24 hours later.
The option was there, staring my right in the face: frustration. anger. exhaustion. (Even if it all goes smooth, any kind of travel with a infant is tiring, no naps for mama on these flights or drives!) for my husband too, the realization that this meant another day of work missed, another precious vacation day used, was there waiting to incite bitterness. But instead, we were shuttled by the airport to a beautiful hotel, enjoyed a nice dinner with the vouchers the provided, and had the precious opportunity for our baby to meet great-gramma and a great aunt, in a city far away that we very very rarely make it to.
The moment meant a lot to me, a lot to the great-relatives, and I know that one day it will mean a lot to my daughter. Being able to meet relatives and build connection with family means so much to me, and I hope to do everything I can to instil in my child(ren) a appreciation and love for their elder relatives and the wisdom that comes from those who have done it all before us.
To top it all off, when we finally did get on to our last plane trip home, we walked on the plane straight to the economy rows, looking for the row our assigned seats would be in and walked right past the large spacious seats of first class, only to find out that someone along the way had bumped us to first class. Thank you Delta, with all that spoiling I barely noticed that you lost a bag on the way home, well 1 our of 3 isn’t too bad. It got delivered to our house, no lifting in and out of trunks. There’s looking on the bright side ;)
PS. Word of advice, for surprising perks on your next flight, try being gracious and nice to the airline agents… or travel with an adorable infant, or both.