The 2009 WI Holiday

When I left WI for DC 11 some years ago I made it pretty clear to everyone how much I dislike winter and that I wouldn’t be home for Christmas. When Pa died last November I looked back over the last decade and saw all the time that I could have been there to see him and spend time with him and instead I stayed in DC. So this year I decided it was time to go home to see Ma and the family. I planned early and had a ticket to leave DC on Christmas Eve and come home on the 30th. The best part was that I didn’t tell her I was coming. I did have to tell Rhonda though, to be sure someone would actually be home if I surprised everyone (One year I called home to wish Ma and Pa a Merry Christmas and my nephew Michael let me know they weren’t home but off gambling…. on Christmas!!! gasp!).

So that’s how I ended up at Washington National Airport on Christmas Eve morning surrounded by a million people trying to get home for the holiday’s. I arrived an hour and a half before my plane was to depart (thanks to a ride from Gary) and it took me that long exactly to check my bag and get through security. I’d never encountered lines like that at the airport before. I had an aisle seat and was across from a woman who claimed to be a reporter and was asking the Flight Attendants a million questions and more often than not I’d have a Flight Attendants behind in my face as they bent to listen to her and answer her query. I can get through that kind of thing, I have the Ipod on shuffle and the Kindle in my lap, I can get through almost anything… then she taps me on the shoulder. I remove one of my ear buds and look at her questionably. “Do you know what time it is?” She asks. I think she wasn’t a reporter but just likes annoying people.

Landing in MSP the runways were white and the snow was blowing around quite wildly. Friends in Eau Claire said they had ice coming down. With a three hour layover I had plenty of time to contemplate being stuck in the Minneapolis airport overnight. I made alternate plans to take the Chippewa Valley Airport Shuttle an hour after my plane was to take off (just in case) and was about to make a room reservation (just in case) when we boarded our small commuter plane for Eau Claire. A very uneventful short flight.

I rented a car in Eau Claire and drove the wrong way out of the airport (with all the snow I couldn’t see very well and the roads were all blanketed in white) to my friends Pat and Brenda’s where I was greeted by Pat and Brenda out in the garage smoking and then my (home from the Army in Iraq) nephew Scooter in a bathrobe and not much else… it was frigid cold out. I had intended to go tot he Pacific Group that night for a meetings but the weather kept us all from our intended plans. We did get to drive around aimlessly looking for somewhere to eat dinner – we arrived at McDonald’s 5 minutes before they closed. That evening we opened gifts from our stockings. Christmas Day arrived and we had a nice breakfast cooked by Sami and Helen and then opened gifts. It was entertaining. I received several different superhero shirts, great stuff for me. After gifts were opened I jumped in the rental car and started my drive to Galesville (about 100 miles south).

The roads on the interstate were not as bad as I’d imagined, there were miles where it was snowing, miles where it was raining and stretches of road that looked like it hadn’t been affected by the weather at all. Just outside of Osseo there were two Semi’s lying on their side on opposite sides of the road but other than that no obvious accidents. I arrived in Galesville in a relatively short time and attempted to get up Rhonda’s driveway but the ice had me sliding back down it pretty quickly so I followed them (Rhonda and Greg) out of town to Ma’s. At Ma’s were Kenny and Sheila and they were all a little surprised to see me.

The six of us all went to the movies, this has been a Christmas tradition for me for a few years now, to see Avatar in 3D. I liked it, Ma thought it was “meh”, Kenny can’t deal with the 3D effects … but it was nice to be all together. When we got out of the theater the weather had gotten a bit worse and the roads were treacherous, we had planned to go see the holiday lights but instead we ended up at Ma’s eating dinner and watching Observe and Report (a movie to avoid, this was the second time I’d seen it and I did try to warn them).

The day after Christmas was when all the family managed to get together and exchange gifts. But that day for lunch I did manage to get to Rocky Roccoco’s for a slice of pizza. The Christmas festivities started around 5:00, Ma, Kenny and Sheila, Rhonda and Greg, Uncle Rick, Michael and Michelle, and Cory, Danielle and Charlie were all there… and lets not forget Winnie and Sammy. It was nice and everyone seemed to have a good time. Lots of photos of Charlie (My grand-nephew) were taken by all and he was very entertaining. The nicest part for me was Uncle Rick being there, he sounds so much like Pa it was like he was in the room with us enjoying the holiday. I’m glad I went home and got to hear that (Ma says she can’t hear it but Rhonda and Kenny have said they can).

Sunday morning I headed back to the Eau Claire area, stopping at Taco John’s to have my favorite lunch, and that evening I went to the Northside meeting and listened to good discussions on step 12. It was refreshing to be there and to hear the traditions and real recovery. Monday I had breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, (Heckel’s) and that evening went to the 5:30 Big Book meeting at Club 12, more good recovery … it’s like a booster shot that will hopefully help keep me sane back here in DC for a while.

Tuesday morning, bright and… wait, it was dark, I headed off to the airport to return the car and board the plane for MSP. Nothing to speak of happened until I boarded the plane to DC and was seated next to one of the two screaming toddlers on the plane. I put my Ipod on as soon as I could but the little guy was sleeping and thrashing in his sleep, hitting me several time and or dropping his bottle or screaming … it didn’t really help that the heating system in the plane was screwy – in the back of the plane where I was the heat was so bad I was sweating and in the front I understand they kept their jackets on.

Alas, it’s over, I’m home and the cat couldn’t be happier. My friends in DC were on Facebook complaining about the cold but having just come from WI I can tell them all it’s warm here, warm and nice and you should appreciate it.

My Birthday Wish

This year for my birthday, December 6, 2009, I’m trying to raise cash for the Midnight Mission a non-profit organization in LA that helps the homeless and has a 12 Step approach. If you’re planning to give me a gift this year I would certainly appreciate a small donation to this worthy charity.

Their mission statement:

  • To offer a bridge to self-sufficiency for homeless people through counseling, education, training and job placement.
  • To make available the necessities of life to homeless people: food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene needs, and medical care.
  • To offer the 12-step approach to recovery.
  • To serve homeless people with empathy and respect, without sermonizing.
  • To provide for the homeless as an independent social service agency.

In 1995 and 1996 I had the opportunity to visit the Midnight Mission first hand and see the good work they do. I also know several people who personally got their second chance at the Mission and made the most of it.

All I want this year for my birthday is second chances for others and you can help me achieve that goal.

Click here to donate through my birthday wish.