Never forget that there are many truly good and wonderful people in the world. I think back on the crazy Chicago trip for Lissa and I know that the goddess was watching and helping our family through the actions of many. Our Chicago agency ceased to be helpful and actually became somewhat hostile. They seemed unable to understand that a toddler and an elementary aged child were going to have very sad Yule's if we could not get home. But the folks at Jewish Family Services of Metrowest understood. The folks at the Interstate compact office understood. The two of them moved heaven and earth to get clearance for us to leave IL. Meanwhile there were other kindly folks. The travel agent that kept booking and rebooking flights for us because we would be told we "might" leave such and such a day. With Christmas coming ever closer it was getting harder and harder to schedule a flight for 6 people. The Residence Inn we stayed at knew we didn't want to pay the $250 per day if we didn't need the rooms and on the day that it seemed most likely we truly would be able to leave for home, they let us remain in the room till after 1 p.m. Then we moved down to the lobby and they let us use the phone at the main desk to network with the IPC and JFS. Though it felt unbelievably stressful at the time, even during it, I could see how hard so many people were working to bring our newly expanded family home. and finally the call did come. We were cleared to leave Chicago and fly back to MA. Jubilantly we drove to meet our flight. Unfortunately we hit another road block. The airline said that Elisabeth was too young to fly and that we could not board. We found out subsequently that there is no FAA regulation to that effect. JFS thought that perhaps because we were such a large family and of a different constellation that we somehow tripped someone's radar and they thought something inappropriate was somehow going on. At any rate whatever the reason we could not fly home for an easy 3 hour flight. That was the bad news. The good news was that we had not yet turned in our rental car and were able to retain it and drive home. We opted to drive straight through. It is too hard to try and settle all the kids down in a hotel room. By the time that happened, we wouldn't get much sleep anyway. And we were only 2 days away from Christmas. We needed to get home and make that holiday happen for everyone. So though it was exhausting it was a straight through journey. Chet and Rob amused each other by seeing how long they could stay awake (Rob till 4:30 a.m.; Chet till much later) KC is a good traveler, Lissa was not amused by the length of the journey. We were blessed with safe travel conditions and though the journey was long (20 hours) we were safely home the day before Christmas eve.
I remember that KC wanted to ride in his Little Tykes coupe car right after we got home and that is what he did to help acclimate himself back to the familiar surroundings of home. Shortly after that, he tipped over the Christmas tree :-) I had been awake during the whole journey but thought I was still doing pretty well. I decided my job would be to go to WalMart and get stocking stuffers and gifts for baby Elisabeth. Off I went. Obviously not doing quite as well as I thought because when I got to WalMart there were no buggies in the front of the store. Of course there wouldn't be that close to the holiday. But in my sleep deprived state I couldn't figure out what on earth to do about this and stood there gap mouthed staring at the empty corral. Eventually some one came and asked if I needed help and I explained my need for a buggy. Somehow they found one for me and i managed to find the requisite gifts and pay for everything and return home.
Christmas Eve day I wrapped gifts and though I don't remember much about the actual day---by that time the adrenaline was worn off and all that was left was true bone weary exhaustion--I have pictures of our family. And we are happy. There is a sparkle in our eyes (even if there are bags under them!) There is a picture of KC looking tenderly at baby Elisabeth, and of Rob and Chet opening gifts they had longed for. I do remember feeling a warmth that had nothing to do with temperature, a warm cocoon of love enfolding us all. We had been and continue to be, so very blessed.