By Tara Kaprowy
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The plan had seemed simple enough. My family would come to Kentucky for Christmas and then, on the 26th, we would all head to Florida to join more relatives, along with my best friend Kristin and her family. But, as we all discovered, sometimes a plan don’t mean a thing.
I’m whipped into a frenzy, so excited to see my family I can’t sit still. The house is decorated, the presents are wrapped, the food is cooked and all that’s left is for them to just get here. But then I get a text message from my stepdad Peter: “BIG problems in Chicago. Best case is we arrive LEX at 11:30 tonight. 50/50 that we stay in Chicago and arrive in LEX tomorrow.”
My heart falls as I check the weather and see a monster blizzard sitting primly over the entire northeast.
Hours later, Peter text messages again, informing me that he and my mom won’t be getting into Kentucky until the following morning.
Disappointed but not devastated, my husband and I have a cozy evening at home, the lights glittering on the tree. I decide it’s just as well that they get all of the bad travel luck out of the way early so we can pull Christmas off without a hitch.
My mom and Peter arrive and I run out of the front door in bare feet and T-shirt to welcome them. Christmas feels like it’s firmly arrived until I get this text message from my little brother Matthew: “Just got deplaned because they can’t get the seat belt chime to stop.”
After getting off and on the plane several more times, Matthew and his wife Jennie are told the plane will not be leaving until the next morning.
At this point, I am feeling a pinch of holiday stress. I’m badly disappointed not to see my brother and am also unsure how to proceed with Christmas dinner, as I’d planned on us having our family feast the following day. It could still work if all goes as planned. But …
My morning starts with this message from Matthew: “Different plane, but seat belt chime won’t turn off again. Flight delayed. Saying planes made in Brazil and not used to Canadian winters.”
Starting to feel desperate. If they don’t take off today, no one would blame them if they just scrapped the whole thing and stayed in Edmonton for Christmas. Badly want to see my little brother.
Finally, the flight leaves Edmonton and heads to Minneapolis. Matthew and Jennie miss their connection to Lexington, but manage to get a flight that arrives in Louisville at 6 p.m. William and Peter get ready for a five-hour return drive to pick them up and I put off dinner until the following day.
At 9 p.m., Matthew and Jennie arrive. Their lost luggage arrives at 4 a.m.
With bags packed and the fridge empty, we all head to Lexington airport ready for Fort Myers and its warm, breezy climes. My mom, Peter, Matthew and Jennie are leaving on a flight to Charlotte at 4:20, we leave for Atlanta at 5. But when we get through security and run into them, we see serious frowns.
“It started snowing and the flight from Charlotte didn’t have the proper snow gear to land,” Peter announces. “Even though they were ten minutes from Lexington, they turned back to go to Charlotte.”
“I’ll give you a buck and high five for your seat,” Matthew jokes with my stepdaughter Gabrielle.
She doesn’t laugh.
We get to our gate and board accordingly for Atlanta. But, because of the very few flakes of snow, our plane needs to be de-iced, a process that takes 47 minutes — the same 47 minutes we had to make our connection in Atlanta to Fort Myers. We miss our flight to Fort Myers and are put on standby.
In the meantime, the flight to Charlotte is canceled entirely and my family is given stunningly bad news.
“Can’t get out until Saturday by plane. We are driving to Florida. Will be in touch,” the text message from Peter reads.
An hour later, I get another one from Matthew: “Just got picked up for speeding and the officer informed us we were going the wrong way.”
We manage to get seats on the flight from Atlanta and land in Fort Myers at 2 a.m.
The 12-hour drive from Lexington continues. My family decides to forego staying in a hotel and press on through. By noon the next day, they arrive, pale, twitchy, bleary eyed.
The trip to Florida was intended to be in two parts — the first in Fort Myers with my aunts, uncle and cousins, the second in Sarasota, where Kristin’s parents have a home. After a lovely, though admittedly yawny, evening spent with family the night before, we set out for the 1.5-hour drive to Sarasota. With bags packed, we head out of my mom and Peter’s condo, Matthew and Jennie electing to take the stairs, the rest of us packing into the elevator. Down, down, down it goes until … it doesn’t.
Coming next week: How to survive being stuck in an elevator.