a nailbiting Christmas Eve

Happy third day of Christmas to all! I hope you got all your French hens this morning. My other Christmas wish for you is that your Christmas Eve was less suspenseful than ours.

We were lucky enough to be able to travel from the snowy Northeast to sunny Florida for Christmas morning, and I was just thrilled with myself for being so organized as to have everything Santa DONE already. I had sent all the kids’ gifts there, already wrapped, and had a friend open the boxes and hide it all on the other side. Why, all we had to do was breeze in on Christmas Eve afternoon, and spend a lovely warm evening decorating the already-up Christmas tree! What a relaxing Eve of the Nativity I would have!

Beware of hubris, dear mothers. Beware. The laws of Mother Load dictate that if you ever think to yourself, “I really have my act together,” the parenting gods will make it their business to see that you do not. (See “plane, throwing up on, eight times,” from last month, for another example.) In fact, I should by now know to assume the worst whenever air travel is involved.

And so I was not entirely unprepared for what faced us at the small airport near Nana’s house on Christmas Eve morning at 7 am: runways so icy that the trucks that de-ice the planes could not even approach them. No departures, or arrivals, for the foreseeable future. And the increasing likelihood, with each passing moment, that we would miss our connecting flight.

After an hour of cuticle-chewing, David and I decided to pull the ripcord. We KNEW we didn’t want to wake up Christmas morning in the Philadelphia airport. So we won’t go, we said, remaining calm. We’ll fly on Christmas Day. And they can see what Santa brought when they wake up on the 26th, instead.

The boys were watching the luggage handlers and mechanics slipping and falling on the ice outside. I broached the topic carefully.

MOMMY: So you guys. It looks like we can’t fly today. So we’ll stay at Nana’s another day, and then we’ll fly tomorrow. OK?

BOYS: (only half paying attention) OK.

MOMMY: That means we won’t be in Florida tomorrow, where we told Santa we’d be.

This gets their attention.

MOMMY: But, you know, it’s no big deal, because we’ll just see what Santa brought whenever we do get there! How does that sound?

Cooper shakes his head. Poor, deluded Mommy.

COOPER: Don’t worry, Mommy. Santa has a magic snowball. He’ll look in it and he’ll see we’re at Nana’s house. He won’t bring our toys to Florida! Santa knows EVERYTHING.

And the two boys returned to looking out the window, calm as could be. Well, Cooper was right about one thing: Santa did know everything, and she was quaking in her imitation Ugg boots.

But this time, I had my secret airport weapon with me: Daddy.

I get nowhere with gate agents, and flight attendants, and others in the customer service industry. I ask, they say no, I say OK, end of story. But for some reason, they all say yes to David. Women love him. Gay men love him. And straight men? He can work his whole “hey guy, you’re a guy, and I’m a guy” thing. So I sent David to work his magic, and get us to Florida that day, because otherwise I was going to be searching through the dregs at the local K Mart to make Christmas happen, all because of some freaking allegedly magic snowball.

And then, David flashed his smile, and the gate agent called “Inventory,” whatever that is, and then we had a Christmas miracle: 5 seats, TOGETHER no less, on the last plane to Florida out of Philadelphia that afternoon. Sure, it would mean an extra four hours at the airport, but that’s where Mommy works HER magic: skipping contests and scavenger hunts! Just 13 hours later, we arrived, greasy and exhausted, at our Florida destination, and our kids were all asleep already so we didn’t have to deal with the Christmas Eve bedtime agita, and dang it if Cooper wasn’t right: the next morning, Santa had come after all.

And even though Fergus claimed he didn’t want pwesents and wasn’t getting any, he did, and he did.

But Santa doesn’t think she’ll be cutting it THAT close again.