It’s about time I wrote about the holidays this year… coco_b and I have never been able to celebrate Christmas together because it is such an important holiday for both of our families. This year, however, we figured out a way to be together, even if it did involve quite a bit of hectic traveling. Her family celebrates the Polish tradition of Wigilia on Christmas Eve, while my family does most of it’s celebrating on Christmas Day. So with some help from her family, who decided to celebrate Wigilia a day early on the 23rd, we decided to fly to Michigan on the 19th, fly to NJ on the 24th, and return to Boston via an undecided mode of transportation some day before the new year.
After work on the 19th, the two of us met at Logan airport… I had to wait around for a Silver Line bus for awhile, so I was running a little behind (our very conservative schedule) when I got to the airport and saw hundreds of people in line for security. Fortunately, Corinna was on schedule and saving a place in line for me towards the front. After 15-20 minutes we had made it through security without issue and were waitingfor our flight. Corinna had stopped by Darwin’s for some sandwiches so we didn’t have to subject ourselves to Airport food. After eating, we went to our gate, and Corinna waited on line to talk to a NWA rep. It seems that even though we had bought our tickets 9 months ahead of time, we were still seated apart. After some complex negotiations, Corinna had fixed this situation and we boarded the plane and plopped down in our adjacent seats. Just as the plane was taxing, a woman from the front of the plane got up out of her seat and moved all the way to the back of the plane to use the restroom. The stewardess at the back of the plane tried to tell this woman to return to her seat but she wasn’t understanding. The head stewardess was summoned and she finally convinced the woman to sit in an empty seat at the back of the plane until it was bathroom time on the plane. But this woman, who didn’t seem to understand english, remained in the seat until we began our descent into Detroit. At that point, she got back up out of this seat in the back of the plane and went to the bathroom again. This time, there were no stewardesses to interfere, even though she wasn’t supposed to be up this time either. She finished her business and returned to her assigned seat. Not only was all this suspicious, but I’ve heard stories of planes not taking off or being diverted because of passengers like this, so I was pretty pissed off. Fortunately, none of these doomsday scenarios occurred and we arrived in Detroit on time.
Corinna’s folks picked us up at the airport, and we returned to their home. I hadn’t been in Michigan for 2.5 years, so this was the first I had seen of their renovations. The house is 3 times the size of the “old” house, which was a small cottage they had purchased. The size of the house came in handy with all the visitors it was going to house over the next few weeks. Corinna and I stayed in the basement, but her parents went out of their way to make it cozy, and in our opinions, the best guest accommodations. With some curtains, they made us a little “room” complete with end tables, lamps, and a queen size bed. While it was somewhat chilly down there, the blankets they provided compensated plenty (too warm for my tastes, actually). There actually was heat available to us down there, but since we didn’t plan on ‘hanging out’ down there, and the blankets did their job, we never turned it on.
Friday morning we got up rather early to drive out to Chicago to visit Corinna’s cousin and grandfather. It was a relatively painless drive, about 5 hours with little-to-no traffic, and I drove the majority of it (Corinna took over for the last 50 miles or so). It was great visiting with them, Corinna’s grandfather is a very nice man with some great stories. Her cousin Wendy recently had a baby, Chloe, and it seemed like Grandpa really enjoyed spending time with the baby, even if it was taxing for him. After a few hours it was time for Grandpa to take a nap and for us to turn around and return to Detroit. Corinna took the first shift, and I took a nap. I woke up 2.5 hours later and we were just entering Indiana. I have been told that we hit a ton of traffic in Chicago, and that Corinna was happy I slept through it because I would have bitched and moaned if I was awake. We stopped for dinner at a Denny’s in Gary, Indiana (Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana) and I took over driving. On a side-note, when we walked into the Denny’s we were confronted with a question we hadn’t heard in years: “Smoking or Non?”. It’s so easy to forget how awesome it is to have smoke-free restaurants until you go to a state which doesn’t. I appreciated that law plenty before, but I really appreciate it now.
The next day, half of the Atlanta (formerly of Albuquerque) contingent arrived. Lori (Corinna’s Sister-in-Law) arrived in the afternoon with Meggan, Max, Emily, and Evelyn. The kids had really grown up since we saw them a 1.5 years ago, which I guess is to be expected. I believe their car trip was something like 14 hours, so everyone was pretty pooped by the time they arrived. We just kinda hung out until midnight or so when the second part of the caravan arrived, with Corinna’s brother Frodak and the rest of the kids, Miranda and Matteo. We tried to stay up as late as we could, but it had been a hectic couple of days and Corinna and I were shredded.
On the 22nd we spent quite a bit of time just hanging out at the house, but in the middle of the day we cut out to visit with Corinna’s friend Michelle in Ann Arbor. When we returned from Ann Arbor, we arrived just in time for dinner. Corinna’s other two brothers, Tomak and Paul came over for dinner, and Corinna pointed out that this was the first time in 4 years that the whole family was in the same room. We ate, drank, and caught up, which rocked, because my last visit to Michigan was so short I really didn’t have the opportunity to really get to know her brothers.
The next day was Wigilia, but early in the day we snuck out to visit Tomak’s new house and studio closer to Detroit. It’s a great piece of property, and he’s built a great studio on it as well. After visiting Tom, we drove over to Corinna’s Great Aunt and Uncle, who are like grandparents to her. Her great uncle made some pizza, which I was surprised to like (as a total pizza snob), and we talked and looked at lots of photos. I even had the opportunity to provide some tech support. :)
We returned to the house just as the “Kids’ Table” was sitting down for dinner. The “Adults’ Table” feast was out of control. Most everything was delicious, although I learned I prefer pickled herring over creamed herring. There were so many courses, the main course being some delicious fish. There were poppy seeds all over the place, fortunately my new job doesn’t require any opiate screenings scheduled, so I was able to indulge… :)
On Christmas Eve we had to pack up and get to the airport… We gave ourselves 2.5 hours to get through security after the lines in Boston when we left. Of course, there were only 4 people in front of us, so we ended up there way too early… Corinna ventured off from the gate to find some beverages, and while I waited for her to return, I decided to fire up the Powerbook and look for some wireless. Unfortunately, Detroit charges for access, but I was bored and figured I could use some petty cash without the CFO noticing. She eventually returned, and asked me “Oh, they have wireless?”, to which I answered yes (truthfully). A few minutes later this kid sits down next to me and asks me about wireless and if I paid or if there was a free option and I was totally busted. But Corinna must have been in the Christmas spirit because she didn’t prosecute me. Every plane I’ve travelled on has been nearly packed for the past few years, so when we not only got exit row seating, but also boarded a half-full plane, it was a nice holiday surprise.
Update: I definitely did a sprint through the last part of the story… I was getting pretty tired, it took several distracted hours, while convalescing, to write this and I just kinda wanted to get it out of the way. I didn’t mean to omit Amy, Andy, and their cute-as-hell son Colin. Unfortunately, we only got to see them on Wigilia, even though we were hoping to pop over to their place at some point. Hopefully we’ll be able to see them more next time!
To be continued….