The Long Version...
Easy Holiday Travel. No, Really!
In keeping with the Ancient Traditions, Clan Nichols has been gathering closer to the Winter Solstice than Christmas itself. Because the official holiday falls on a Tuesday this year, we decided to avoid travel around the nearest weekend, and bumped our timing to the weekend before. I'm very, very glad we did. Almost everything about getting there and back again went smoothly. Even scooping drarwenchicken up from work and driving through commute-hour traffic to the airport went fine. From there: Park, shuttle to terminal, check in, security, have dinner, line up for boarding, board, fly, disembark, baggage claim, shuttle, rental car counter, drive rental car to parents' house. All easy. Even the return trip was almost problem-free, and that included a stop at a mall to visit with holyhippie and Family before we headed to the airport.
The only glitch came when we returned the rental car. The guy came out and scanned the numbers on the vehicle as we unloaded our luggage. As we were ready to head for the shuttle, he prints the receipt and hands it to me. I glanced at it before stuffing it in my pocket; and the total is four times what it's supposed to be. My sister notices my quizzical expression, and looks at it too.
In her current job, drarwenchicken deals with health insurance companies a lot. These organizations can sense fear, so she deals them with unflinching matter-of-factness. Before I managed a tentative "Um…", she's plucked the receipt from my hand, walked up to the attendant and announced "This is not right."
We quickly determine that he cannot rectify the situation, so we go to the counter inside. For whatever reason, the scanner decided that our vehicle belonged to a different customer, and had calculated time, distance and cost based on a totally different set of assumptions. Fortunately, my ego is not tied into having to be the one to fix things, because drarwenchicken explained the situation and the customer-service rep made quick work of the snafu, and I didn't have to do anything. So I made a trip to the restroom. By the time I was back, everything was worked out.
She claims the pregnancy hormones help, but if I ever have to argue with an insurance company, I'll bring in drarwenchicken to keep them in line.
Of Penguin Pajamas
This year, the presents were for the kids, but I guess holyhippie and Valkyrie felt like they should do something for everyone else in exchange (as the kids that we're all buying presents for are theirs). They put together photo calendars of themselves, their kids and their cats, and gave a copy to each household. They must have figured I'd be all whiny if I didn't get something just for me, so they gave me a pair of flannel pajama pants, with penguins on them. This doubles my collection of penguin-based sleepwear! I figure I got the best deal, as I can look at the calendar that drarwenchicken and BILJ received, but I don't have to share my pajamas. Life is good.
Family Drama, Nichols-Style
The Biggest Drama arose from BILJ's decision to not go. On Friday, he said he felt as if he was coming down with stomach flu, and didn't want to share that with the family, so he stayed home. This was fine, until drarwenchicken tried to call him Saturday night, and couldn't reach him via home phone nor cell phone. She went to bed, and woke up in the middle of the night having an anxiety attack about it, so she tried to call around midnight. No answer. She left a message. She was tense and worried all Sunday morning, until we headed for the airport and got within cell-phone range of civilization. THEN his late-night text message came through (I can't help but point out that of all the possible communication forms available, texting was least accessible from where we were). She called again, and he was indeed at home, was fine, and had recently woken up. He did apologize, as he hadn't wanted to cause her fourteen hours of anxious worry, and she did acknowledge that much of the reaction was probably due to being pregnant. So, it all ended up okay.
I told sanguinity this story when we went walking on Monday, and she asked "So, where's the Drama?" That made me laugh, but it's true; drama for us Nicholses is more like a British movie, where it's all about subtext and meaningful pauses, rather than high-volume arguments, hitting or throwing of objects. Which I'm rather grateful for. When we gather for the holiday, most of our time is spent in the preparation, consumption and cleaning-up of meals, but we also play games, sit around talking, go for walks and open presents. My family members all have their own eccentricities, but we generally play nicely together.