This time of year will probably forever remind me of traveling in airports. It was three years ago from this coming January that we accepted Mike’s job in Washington. While living out there, every time but once we flew home. It became routine to fly and it was always Seatac to Denver to Minneapolis to Chicago that we flew. I know each airport like the back of my hand which is both convenient and depressing because I hate traveling.
One thing that has always struck me about traveling during the holidays is the kindness shown to me by complete strangers. Most of the time I fly with my husband, but there were a few times that I had to fly alone with my daughter so my husband could redeem our frequent flier miles on a separate flight. Every time I flew with my daughter complete strangers would offer to help me fold up my stroller at the terminal. Strangers would help me stow my luggage up top when it was too heavy to lift that and a child at the same time. The workers at the gate would do everything in their power to get me the seats that I wanted.
I’ve met the most interesting people on flights. On my first flight flying alone with my daughter, I sat next to a woman who was going to meet her grand baby for the first time and a woman who was flying to Texas to visit her son’s grave. It had been 20 years since she was last able to make it. I was stuck in the middle seat on a flight when I was 5 months pregnant AND had a baby in my lap for the flight. The guy with the window seat said his wife was pregnant and he was a pilot, and he told me about how protocols have changed since 9/11. I chatted with a woman from Salt Lake City when we were both waiting for our planes about how life changes when you have your second kid. She came from a huge family and said that everyone in her family has missed a flight before. My response: “people miss flights?!”
Of course it hasn’t always been gravy. I’ve also sat next to people who are sweaty and hog the arm rests the whole time and people who still smell like last night’s bar experience.
Anyway, my point is that people are good. In my normal day to day life, I don’t often make a point of chatting with strangers. But something about the holiday season makes my heart a little more tender and makes me pay closer attention to what’s going on around me. If only we could all harness a little bit of the Christmas season and take it with us year round. Wouldn’t that be nice?
I’m so grateful that we moved closer to home and we won’t be going to any airports this year. In fact, my husband and I were just reflecting that this stretch since my last flight in April has been the longest stretch we’ve gone without flying in three years. I won’t miss it, but I will miss the kind people I have always encountered when traveling. I hope wherever your travels take you this season- to the airport, holiday shopping or otherwise- that you encounter kindness. Humanity is good.