Santa hats curb travel crankiness

’Tis the season, isn’t it? The season of joy, no matter our stand on faith and religion.
It is the season of hoping and smiling, and the season of imagining. It is the season of lights and parades and cookies and bad eating habits (especially if we happen to be of an age that hasn’t quite reached eight years old).
I believed in all things Christmas, including Santa, until I was 10. Perhaps I was a tad too old for such things in light of the evidence of doubt, but I dug in and refused to give up on Santa and all he represented to me.
I’m still reluctant.
I’ve just done the cross-country tour to see my daughters, the three that live out of arm’s reach (thank goodness for Laurie being in my own backyard).
I got to hug my daughters, listen to their laughs and their stories, and stroke their hair and fuss over them all while silently wishing they hadn’t grown up and left me.
And I got to hold my baby boys, to breathe them in and learn their personalities; to figure out how to comfort and care for them, to change their diapers and rock them to sleep, and to listen to their wonderful new voices and witness their perfection.
I’m on my way home now, my heart heavy, my stomach complaining; so hard to leave. I hate travel, hate cramming myself into those flying sardine cans—and there are moments when I consider jumping from said sardine can without benefit of parachute.
I struggle to hold even a feeble grip on sanity, especially during the long flights like Vancouver-to-Halifax.
On this particular trip, I paid for the extra-sized seat, exhaling with the assurance I may survive the confinement and silently hoping no one would occupy the seat next to me.
Soon after boarding, I discovered I was in the wrong seat, having referred to the next leg’s boarding pass in error.
No problem, the thoughtful gentleman whose seat I was in said, checking his boarding pass and assuaging my guilt. I’ll just sit in your seat, he said.
Good news? Not so fast.
At the very last minute, a very, very large young man entered the aircraft and was destined for the seat next to me—yet the seat next to my actual assigned seat remained vacant.
This young man’s arms and legs, and substantially-sized feet, spilled from his seat into mine and I felt the desperate urge to start screaming. Four hours and 38 minutes later, I was safely on the ground in Toronto and fled from the aircraft as if my hair was on fire.
I was in a foul mood, cranky even, with a healthy serving of grouchy. But as I burst into the airport, the sight I beheld chased away every cantankerous cell in my body.
There before me was a sea of Santa hats—hats on travellers, hats on airport personnel, hats, hats, and more hats of bright red with wide fuzzy white bands. I laughed right out loud, smiled to my very toes.
My step lightened. I had a hum in my heart.
Now to board another aircraft and suffer through a two-hour flight to Halifax. I’ll close my eyes and conjure up Santa hats. How perfectly lovely.