Just say “NO” to airport self-serve yogurt machines!

It is Thanksgiving morning and I am sitting half comatose at the kitchen counter waiting for the coffee maker to create its magic. My drug of choice is caffeine and I wait impatiently for last steamy gurgle that signifies the pot of dark roast is hot n’ ready for consumption. I reach for the biggest mug and fill it with this divine liquid that gives me love and enough caffeine to zap my brain’s neurons awake.

Not that I have much to be awake for this Thanksgiving Day. Today feels like any other day as I am not feeling any pressure of having to cook a big turkey feast for the family. This year it is just two of us for Thanksgiving. Our two college-aged sons have decided to go Philadelphia for the annual American Latvian Youth Congress.

“What the heck is that?” you may ask. Well every year during the Thanksgiving weekend a group of mostly twenty-something year old Latvian Americans gather in a hotel to discuss ways of sustaining Latvian culture in the U.S., socialize, talk politics and socialize some more. It’s kind of a rite of passage for young Latvian Americans. My husband and I participated in these Congresses when we were young so we are happy the tradition continues with our own sons. But their participation in this event does give Thanksgiving a different feel this year. Not that I am not grateful for my life but I am feeling a little “meh” about this Turkey Day.

O.K., enough “Woe is me!” whining…I turn on the tunes and Lenny Kravitz has got me singing along:

I wish that I could fly
into the sky
so very high
just like a dragonfly

I’d fly above the trees
over the seas in all degrees
to anywhere I please

Oh I want to get away
I want to fly away
Yeah yeah yeah

Now that I think about it, my hubby and I should have planned a trip to fly away like Lenny. Traveling by two is so darn easy compared to traveling during the holidays with a family four.

The preparation involved with family travel is mind boggling when I look back. You needed to worry about: getting 4 seats together on a plane, lugging a car seat or stroller, all the extra carry-on bags that had bottomless pits filled with kid necessities e.g. diapers, wipes, extra food and snacks, change of clothes, tissues, hand sanitizer, water bottle, juice boxes, blankets, favorite cuddly thing, some new toy for 5 minutes of distraction, Tylenol for ear aches and my personal must-have travel accessory = an assortment of Dum Dum lollipops to save the day in case someone was being fussy.

Yes, traveling with children is not for sissies. And let’s not forget the welcoming eye-rolling of fellow passengers when you took a seat in the near vicinity of where they were sitting.

But most of our family travel experiences were positive. Some are still so fresh in my mind. For instance, we traveled once on a 5 hour plane ride with a newborn that actually slept the whole way. We flew in first class, courtesy of a dear friend who worked at the airline and was able to upgrade us to such wonderfully spacious seating and service.

The look of absolute horror of the faces of the first class passengers as we boarded with an infant felt like a punch to the gut. But our son was a trooper and said not a peep the entire way. It must have been the humming of the engine or the positive energy flow that surrounds the pampered and comfortable first class cabin that lulled our baby into a deep sleep for the entire trip. As we disembarked the plane almost everyone was cooing over him and exclaiming what a beautiful boy we had – “So well-mannered!” at 3 months of age…Silly to say but my hubby and I felt like we had won the lottery of easy going babies and were so proud of our little bundle of joy.

But we have also experienced the opposite in travel – when passengers that were seated next to us also had the look of horror on their faces but for a different reason. Years ago, our youngest son, having just complained about severe nausea after eating from a self-service yogurt machine in a dirty, hot Mexican airport, proceeded to projectile vomit forward, upward, backward and downward in a succession of horrendously loud barfing explosions that would put Linda Blair to shame.

Needless to say this unfortunate display started a chain reaction and the passengers seated around us started getting sick from the sight and smell of putrid yogurt globs of vomit that were attached to every possible surface in the tight quarters of our row of seats. After the flight attended refused to assist us in any manner once she observed the degradation her service area and basically ignored our pleas for a napkin or two, I could have sworn she muttered this was her last job ever to a destination with questionable sanitation of water and food sources.

We were able to clean up only because of the help and tremendous pity of fellow passengers that gave us paper towels, ginger ale and mints… Needless to say my husband and I felt terrible for the people seated near us and we decided the best way to deal with the situation was to bribe everyone into not hating us by buying everyone a round of drinks.

Now when we travel, with just the two of us, I look at the parents boarding with young children and think “Thank God those days are over!” and “I sure hope they don’t sit near me” 🙂  But I must admit, if things do go south during the flight for a young family and there is a wee one inconsolably crying and there seems to be no solace anywhere…I make sure to make eye contact with the parents and nod and give a sympathetic smile. After all, most parents who dare to travel with children have faced similar fates…

But those days are long gone for us. Now when we travel it’s half the price and with one little carry-on. What a difference 20 years makes…But even so, what I wouldn’t give to have those days back again. Traveling, the four of us, to a destination for family fun. I guess I’ll have to wait for the time we are grand-parents to relive those crazy days of family travel. But when the time comes I will be ready, with a bag of travel survival tools and of course Dum Dums in hand.

Let’s fade into the sun
Let your spirit fly
Where we are one
Just for a little fun
Oh oh oh yeah!

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