I'll be home for Christmas (eventually) | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

I'll be home for Christmas (eventually)

Everyone knows traveling during the holidays can be horrendous. There are three basic rules to holiday travel:

1- Leave early
2- Pack light
3- Be nice to the airline employees (and TSA agents as well)

With all of our planning and packing and leaving early, we still managed to land ourselves in the worst case scenario of holiday travel.

Merry Christmas. We missed our flight.

I'm sitting in the Mall of America at one of the five Caribou's, don't worry I have plenty of time to hit the other four later. My 9 am flight has now turned into a 9 pm flight; which I'm actually extremely grateful for because there was a brief period where we thought it was going to be a no go on traveling west for Christmas. Thank you, Delta Airlines, for your kindness. Well, the kindness that followed the "I told you so" lecture.

In the few moments of uncertainty, my mind flashed through the Nelson Christmas traditions that have come important to me over the years. I panicked a little at the thought of missing them. My family has great traditions. Some are intentional, some have just evolved over the years:

  •  Every Christmas my family hunts for the perfect Christmas tree at Indian Rock in Apple Hill (about 40 minutes east of Sacramento)...which usually means cutting the top 8 feet of the 16 foot tree my mom found perfection in. There's usually some cider or hot chocolate involved and inevitably someone takes a slide down the muddy hillside.
  •  Christmas Eve is my favorite. We go to Christmas Eve service at my parents' church followed by appetizers at home. There was one year my dad let us pick what ever we wanted and all I wanted was Hamburger Helper. I was 8.
  • After mealtime, my dad reads the Christmas story while we all snuggle in by the fire. And then... there is Christmas carol singing until we can't stop laughing because, well, the Nelsons don't sing.
  •  Christmas morning we open our stockings and presents one by one while my mom fights the urge to clean up every scrap of wrapping paper as we go. Then, mom makes her fantastic Dutch Baby pancake. Amazing
  • My favorite tradition is a newer one. After years indecisive Christmas menus, and one too many Prime ribs, we decided to internationalize our holiday dinner. Every year we pick  a cuisine from a different country and try our hand at authentic dishes. We've had Mexican Christmas, Italian, French, Asian, and last year was Southern Christmas...we basically fried carbs and meat. It was fantastic. Paula Deen has nothing on my Chicken and Dumplings.

I think even more than our traditions, I just treasure time with the people I love most. Even if it requires grueling travel to be with them, it's worth it.  That's what makes family.

I'm coming home, mom. Be there soon.