She stood out against the hustle and bustle of the other holiday travelers. Her navy blue A-line dress looked as though she had forced the maximum allotment of starch into every molecule of the garment before arriving at Dallas Love. Phone to her ear, she begins to tap her foot and sway a bit while listening to the mysterious caller on the other end.
“Well, your rent is 24 days overdue. Would you like to talk about that?” she says firmly and a bit louder than those sitting near her are comfortable overhearing. The woman shakes her shortly cropped, straw blond hair and switches her phone from her left ear to her right. Her movements match the rising agitation in her voice.
“I am about to not get on this plane, is that what you want?!?” she nearly screams into the phone.
I reach slowly for the earbuds I stashed in my right jean pocket when I first arrived at the gate and position them inside my ears as I attempt to disengage myself from the holiday drama that is unfolding before my eyes.
Earlier in my travel day I encountered another woman of travel who also seemed to be at her wits end with a caller on her line who had upset her and made her consider leaving the airport and returning from whence she had come.
What is it about the holidays that pits some loved ones at each other’s throats?
The holidays have always been fairly synonymous with travel for me. I was born into an amazing family that happened to not be concentrated within the same city, state or even region. Every holiday was a balancing act that we always failed at spectacularly because we were never able to get to everyone or give them the “time” that they wanted. I can count on one hand how many times I remember resting at home during a holiday season. It was always on to the next relative because in my family we worked at remaining connected to one another and for us that meant an additional sacrifice of time, money and selfish wanderabout.
The routine of it all kept me from questioning these holiday moves and plans. It was what it was. Now as an adult I still feel the intoxicating pull of family time, but it requires a good bit more thought on my part about how to promote a healthy balance of living my life fully while still honoring my family.
I won’t lie. I am a bit envious of those who live near their families. It is difficult for me to understand how one family can invest time feuding with another family member who lives in the same town, shops in the same markets, weathers the same storms. My mother and father, brothers and sisters and I are all stretched across three time zones and four states. The average cost of a roundtrip plane ticket to visit any of those loved ones is $350/person so it is often that my hubby and I take turns visiting family which is hard but necessary if we wish to maintain those bonds. Driving is not always an option due to weather and time. The drive from our home to my parents’ house is 17 hours straight and the drive to my brother on the west coast is roughly the same. So a 3-day weekend isn’t enough time for a visit.
Add to that the fact that many of our family members simply aren’t of a traveling orientation. Some have never been on a plane. So if we don’t go to them, we won’t see them.
I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for the time that I am afforded with them. I am thankful for the technology that allows us to Skype and talk from a distance when we cannot gather together under one roof. I am constantly on the lookout for ways to make travel more affordable so that we can spend more time with family and friends and I hope to one day live within an hour of a major airport with GREAT rates and affordable train fairs as well.
I have one additional takeaway from this Thanksgiving holiday. Next year, I’m cooking in somebody’s kitchen!
Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Lubbock, Texas. For more information on her current projects visit https://about.me/MCyoungblood.