Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Great Christmas Adventure Part II


Packed, dressed, and ready to go; Well…not ready, exactly. We drove to NAFB to see the kids one more time. Kyle was cooking breakfast for us when we arrived. What a treat. We spent the morning visiting before we needed to leave for the airport. It is so hard to say good-bye. My heart is torn.

Haley and my mom met us at the Santa Rosa airport and we s topped for dinner at Applebee’s. We had a nice ride back to Concord. Haley knows this road well as she commutes to work four days a week in Santa Rosa.


Larry and I attended church with mom and then we fixed sandwiches for lunch. Larry helped mom fix orange/pineapple/carrot salad for family Christmas at Mary’s tonight, and I ran a few quick errands.

Yvette, Ethan, Dennis, Midge, Stacy, Mary, Poncho, Mom, Patty, Jerome, James, Michael C, Haley, Melissa,, Richard, Larry, and I enjoyed chicken enchilada casserole, green salad, mom and Larry’s salad, rolls, mom’s iced tea, lots of desserts including Yvette’s homemade banana pudding.

The Gift Exchange: I am sure everyone has played the game where you pick a gift and the next person may steal it away from you. Pick a package, open it, fall in love with it, and someone takes it away from you. Lots of fun, laughs, and in the end I think everyone had a gift they were happy with. Yvette had Richards’s birdhouse, Patty stole Michael’s black and pink scrapbook tote, Haley had a travel mug that plugs in the cigarette lighter, and Jerome had a room diffuser set.

My job, when I am there to attend family Christmas, is to sort the gifts into bags for each person. I was sequestered away in Mary’s bedroom. Easy you say. 18 bags, stuffed to over flowing, and boxes of items leftover. I had to think about each person as I picked what went into their bag. Some of the bags you almost couldn’t lift. Mary really out does herself on this night spoiling the family and friends. Two hours later, I emerged from the bedroom, tired, but my task had been completed.

After the gift exchange Mary and I gave each person their bag of presents and the fun began. Over whelmed!!! So much fun! Originally this was called stocking night but nothing fits into a stocking anymore so we have moved onto gift bags,--and some really big gift bags.

Soon everyone was gone and we went back to mom’s after trying to clean and straighten Mary’s kitchen the best we could.


Monday was a quiet day. Football, football, football, reading for Larry, a quick errand for me in the afternoon. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and visiting with mom. Mary came for dinner and Larry fixed hamburgers and chips.


A lazy morning sleeping in for Larry and me. Coffee! Kelly called to tell us that Kyler had his doctor appointment and is now 10 pounds 4 ounces. Jim called and he will be down tomorrow afternoon for dinner.

Mom and Larry fixed leftovers and had homemade chocolate cream pie that mom whipped up this morning. I went out with Mary in the afternoon to deliver toys to low income neighborhoods in Pittsburg and Concord.

This was the first time I had ever gone with Mary. We layered on the clothes because it would be late when we returned. We had one Ford F350 truck with a full size tilt trailer, another full size truck with a trailer, and a smaller truck. Each of these was filled with toys. We would pull into a neighborhood that Mary, one of the pastors at the church, and her friends had already determined could use a little extra cheer, and Santa would hop out of the truck and start trying to find parents and children. At first there would be no one, then one child, then a few more, and then the truck would be surrounded. We kept the back of the truck filled with toys for Santa’s helpers to hand out.

One young man walking across a dark grassy area in a gated low income housing project stopped when I asked him if he had children. He was dressed in baggy clothes, oversized, parka, looked more like a teenager on his way out somewhere. He told me he had two kids and would be right back. He returned with about a six year old boy and a five year old girl. When each child had two toys and they were leaving, the young father stopped, turned around and said “God bless you”. That made my night. A young father who was acknowledging that God had sent these toys.

One little girl ran up to Santa and hugged him. Another little girl called out to her family, “Santa is at the door” when he knocked to see if anyone could use some toys. Santa walked up and down, the sidewalks letting children and their parents know his sleigh and elves had gifts for them. The surprised looks on parents’ faces and the anticipation on children’s faces were memories to be treasured.

There were also coats, hats, and scarves to hand out. Blankets, teddy bears, beanie babies, and transformers. The remaining items were taken Thursday morning to Antioch to be distributed to families in that community. It was an amazing journey that began at 3:00 PM at the church and we arrived back at the church at 11:00 PM.

We stopped to have dinner about half way through the night, rest, and get ready to finish up.


I did the Costco run for groceries. Jim requested pork chops, gravy, and rolls and that was what I was going to feed him. We opened presents and enjoyed Christmas again. The kids gave Larry a gift certificate for his Kindle book reader and I have a beautiful frame filled with photos from of my children at all different ages. It almost made me cry to look at some of the photos I have not seen in years. It was getting late and Jim has to work tomorrow, his last night in his sector before changing to his new one. Jim did however leave with jelly, leftovers for lunch the next day, and pie. I hate saying good-bye to my kids!


Larry cooked steaks, baked potatoes, rolls, and salad for New Years Eve dinner. We had a bottle of sparkling cranberry to toast the New Year and Mary came for dinner. We watched the ball drop in NYC three times and welcomed in 2010 with a toast, then it was bed time.


A quiet day reading, eating leftovers, talking, watching T.V. (football), the Rose parade, even a short nap. Mom and I played canasta later in the evening. Billie – 0, mom 2. Mom said I needed to win a game before I went home but she won all three in the end.


Jerry and Laura arrived just hours before Larry and I left for the airport. A short visit but it has been so long since we have been together. Mary drove us to Santa Rosa with a Starbucks stop in route. We kissed her good-bye and checked in.

We had time for a late lunch and then it was time for TSA security screening. Not! We were told our flight was cancelled. Seems the pilots were too tired to fly.

The airline rebooked our flight for the next morning and paid for us to stay at the Fountain Grove Inn in Santa Rosa. We had an early dinner at the Equus Restaurant which is part of the hotel. $8.00 for a meal in the airport is a joke, much less out of the airport, but that is the food allowance Alaska Airlines gives you. Crab cakes and a salad with Hazelnuts and Havarti cheese for me, ribs and turkey soup for Larry. SF sourdough French bread! I could have eaten a whole loaf. This was off the appetizer/small bites menu.

Okay it’s not so bad, right? A nice hotel, dinner, a quiet evening just the two of us.

Before bed I did our web check in for our morning flight and found out the Alaska Airline agent had not booked us to Bellingham. Santa Rosa to Portland to Seattle! This must be a mistake!

No mistake. The flights to Bellingham were full and the agent had just decided not to tell us. If I hadn’t checked we would have arrived in Seattle with no flight and another night in a hotel and more $8.00 meal vouchers.

We can’t get home. They won’t pay for a rental car. No shuttle service available. It’s a hotel and fly on the next available flight, not necessarily Monday, the next available flight, no guarantees. I have a house sitter, cat sitter, and dog sitter.

I was told I picked a busy weekend to fly! Yes, I said, and that is why I booked months in advance. Larry said be calm, I said, just let me take care of it. I was calm, but I was determined. I told Alaska Airlines to just get me home. They said they can’t overbook a flight, but the webpage tells you they do it all the time and that is why you should get to the airport early.

Finally after being told twice, talking with a supervisor, then two supervisors with Alaska Airlines, I mentioned the “passenger’s bill of rights” and we were booked on a flight from Seattle to Bellingham. Surprise, surprise, surprise! Thank you Shelly at AA you got authorization to overbook the flight and we had tickets home. I am hopeful but reserved. I’ll wait to see what happens tomorrow.

It’s going to be a long day tomorrow.


Check-in. Ericka the ticket agent who screwed up and didn’t tell me she didn’t book us into Bellingham all the way home and assured me she would be there in the morning to help us if we had any problems, was nowhere to be found. No surprise.

What we then discovered is that we could have also been booked from Santa Rosa to Seattle and skipped the Portland stop, but now it was too late because that flight was booked. Then Ericka arrived, late, and tried to charge me for our bags that I paid for online for my flight yesterday. I explained I was not going to pay for our bags again and she agreed. I also informed her that she didn’t book our flight home yesterday and I was not happy with her. “Oh I’m sorry” she said in a voice I am sure she uses all day long to cover up her mistakes.

On board, on our way home!

When you have a “special flight” I guess there is no regular spot for the plane when it arrives in Portland, so it parks at the end of a distant concourse. This had to be one of the longest walks from the plane to the terminal I have ever done. First order of business: check in and make sure we are on the flight to Seattle. Done; so now we can have lunch before it is time to board.

Again we arrived in Seattle and checked in first thing. We were not going to miss this flight, especially since it had been overbooked. Three hours later and we were on our last leg of the trip home.

Michael arrived minutes after we landed and after we picked up or luggage we were home by 7:00 PM.

A wonderful vacation and memorable visits with lots of family!

1 comment:

M P said...


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