I have a history of misfortune in holiday travel, especially at Thanksgiving. Snowstorms, canceled flights and misplaced luggage seem to be the norm for me. In spite of my best efforts to make my way smoothly from point A to point B, something is always bound to go awry.
Last year at Thanksgiving, in the face of an impending snowstorm, I ditched my Wednesday morning flight home and crammed into a compact car with four other girls (and their belongings) Monday night for a 12-hour race to get home before snow flew. On the night before my flight back to Greenville, I found that my return flight reservation had been canceled by default. The results of this little fiasco were a very expensive flight rebooking and the longest Thanksgiving break of my academic career.
Another classic example of my chronic misfortune in holiday travel comes from this same trip home for Thanksgiving my sophomore year.
It was the day before Thanksgiving, and it was a beautiful day in Greenville. There was a slight chill in the crisp morning air, and the cloudless sky was demonstrating the phenomenon my dad calls “severe clear.” The only thing between me and my mom’s fabulous pumpkin cheesecake pie was a 90-minute flight from Greenville to Chicago.
Or so I thought.
My plane was scheduled to take off at 7 a.m., but as the time approached, I realized that there was no plane waiting on the tarmac to be loaded. Checking the schedule, I noticed my flight had been delayed half an hour, so I returned to my seat to wait it out.
But as time passed, I watched my flight time move back to 7:45. Then 8. Then 8:30.
Around 9 a.m., an airline employee got on the loudspeaker and announced that the plane I was waiting for was still stuck in Chicago due to heavy fog. But not to worry, the fog was expected to lift within the hour, and I would be in the air before noon.
To my dismay, five hours and an insanely overpriced lunch later, I was still sitting in the airport waiting for a plane that, by this time, was just not going to come. By the time I was able to book a new flight, it was nearly 5 p.m., and I wasn’t going to get out of Greenville until 7 the next morning — Thanksgiving Day.
Thankfully, a kind friend was able to bring me back to campus for the night, and I returned to the airport the next morning to find a plane sitting on the tarmac ready to take me home.
That year, I think I appreciated being home for Thanksgiving more than I ever had before. The chats around the dinner table were that much sweeter, the annual uncles vs. cousins football game brought twice as many laughs, and that pumpkin cheesecake pie was all the more delicious for the difficulty I’d had in getting to them.
Wherever we go in life, there will be bumps in the road. And there’s a lot we can learn from these little inconveniences. We learn to be patient; we learn that life isn’t about getting everything to go our way; and we learn to be thankful for what we do have, and for what we don’t.
So while I’m hoping for a smooth trip home this Thanksgiving, I’m also determined to make the most of whatever obstacles I face.