Most years, I end up flying to the Mitten right before Christmas, if not on Christmas Day. Last year, I flew on Christmas Day, and my sister flew on New Year's Eve (well, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, thanks to weather delays).
This year, if all goes as planned, I will arrive in the Mitten four entire days before Christmas. That is half a week. That is time enough to bake cookies and decorate and wrap presents. It's a whole new and wonderful concept.
So I am packing, and running through the rain to the recycling bin with bags of recycling, and washing all those dishes in the sink. I'm hoping to leave the house in a condition that will not horrify me when I come back (good luck with that, right?).
My flight is a red-eye, of course. They always seem to be, lately. Flights are expensive, and somehow one night of sleep always seems less important than a day of work or several hundred dollars.
And so, as always, I will pace the Gone West airport for a while, all the way down to the end where there are only a few flights a day - S. and I left from there when we went to Vietnam - and then back to the other end, where all the late night flights are boarding. I will spend a few uncomfortable hours upright in the air, and then a few delirious hours of half-sleep on my parents' comfortable couch, and then the house will be full of kids and hugs, and I will be home for Christmas.