Everything Else Travel

The Christmas Adventure

December 25, 2022

We tiptoe out of Chicago in the early morning hours, the sun just brewing over the horizon, flight apron employees breathing out steam, stamping their feet, and slapping their gloves together. Weather radar shows storm clouds approaching but they’re at least ten hours away yet. 

We are finally backed out of the gate twenty minutes after the captain comes on and says, literally verbatim: “Well folks, this metal tube you’re in right now is basically a flying computer. Seems we lost our ground power a second ago and now have to reboot. Hang on while we hit control-alt-delete.” Everything goes dark. People murmur and the odd complaint is heard. We feel a deep gratitude when fifteen minutes later everything comes back online and ten minutes after that we are on our way. What was looking to be an early departure is now twenty minutes late. 

The flight is uneventful (remember, that’s how you want it) and we fly west with the sun chasing our tail, turbulence minimal, swollen, eastbound clouds underfoot. Nearing Seattle the skies clear and we are treated to stellar and breathtaking views of Glacier Peak and Mt. Baker. Later as we turn sharp for the final approach, we catch a glimpse of the immense and impressive spectral of Mt. Rainier, shrouded mid-flank in a small diaphanous band of cloud, silhouetted in the glorious winter morning sun. 

Then we sit on the tarmac for twenty minutes and watch our very short lay-over tick away. Others near us, some of who have only minutes to make their connection, stay oddly calm and I admire them. I am already chewing my nails and tempted to gnash my teeth. I tell Rose, who is reading demurely beside me, not chewing her nails or gnashing her teeth, that if it was weather related, I could take that – all part of the adventure. But this?! This?! First, computer restart and then waiting on some trespassing aircraft to leave the gate we are scheduled for. The nerve! This adventure does not make sense to me.

We finally get off the computerized tube and speed walk to our next aircraft, a hike slightly shorter than the Pacific Trail, and the gate agent says, Friesen family? Yes, that’s us and we are some of the last ones on. The flight to Vancouver is short and sweet, tracking over the rugged west coast, over a panorama of snow-covered islands in endless water. We bank over the Strait of Georgia, take in the awe-inspiring views of the city and the mountains and hit the runway. An unusual amount of snow here in this land that rarely sees a white Christmas.  

* * *

One thing I appreciate about Delta Airlines, besides their salted Almonds, is that you receive notice when your bags have been scanned and are on board. Hmm, we didn’t receive that notice once boarded for Vancouver. Sure enough, the next notice we receive is that our bags have been scheduled for a later flight, one that comes six hours after us. Snow is again in the forecast for tonight, icy rain for tomorrow, and we wonder if we’ll ever see those bags again. Hold on a minute: I said we were up for Adventure, but to enjoy Adventure we need our clothes! No bags is NOT part of the adventure. No way. But nothing we can do. No bags. I’m out of nails to chew by this time. I may have to start on someone else’s. 

Meanwhile. Yes, meanwhile, my dear daughter’s cheek has started to swell, some sort of abscess by all appearances. She reports warmth and pain. Uhm, this also wasn’t part of the adventure I had in mind. 

What did I have in mind? Well, when I accepted that there may be unplanned adventure I scripted it all out: stuck in a hotel somewhere with a nice pool, a late night pizza parlor next door, all our good books to read while we wait for the storm to pass, munching chocolate-covered almonds and sipping hot chocolate. Our narratives, our self-scripts, can be so different than reality and there’s the rub. True adventure is made up of stuff you never expect. 

Instead there’s close calls and nearly missed flights, delayed baggage, and peritonsillar abscesses. Oh, did I mention that once we were safely ensconced at my folks there was no hot water for a while? Par for the course. True freedom comes from accepting the alternative script, the unplanned, the unimagined. They say in acceptance there is peace; there is also lower blood pressure and heart rates. Less chance of cold and canker sores, I may add. 

The bags are finally delivered twelve hours later, in the middle of the night, and we are thankful. It’s a blessing to not have to wear your dad’s underpants or borrow someone’s toothbrush. Urgent Care is open and an appointment is made. There are four-wheel drives to get there. The water issue is fixed and hot showers can be taken. All such first world problems. And we are grateful and thankful that things usually do work out in the end. 

* * *

I suppose Joseph and Mary also had a different script, a different plan, a different preconception of how things would and should go on their journey to Jerusalem. Instead of an uneventful ride with friends, they end up in a smelly stable, sharing a bed with farm animals. Then comes the pain of childbirth in as unhygienic a space as one can imagine. An adventure? Who knows how they approached their difficulties but we do know that it all worked out in the end. Praise God for that! 


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