Paris to O'Hare: A Un-Happy Holiday Season Begins?


1) Saturday, November 14, 1:16 a.m. 

ME (Via Text): Hi Ma! No, I'm not in Paris. Love You. ttyl

2) Sunday, November 15, 3:01 p.m.

ME (Via Text to Serge in Paris): Hey, I hope you and your fam are safe and well.

SERGE (Via Text) : Hey, I'm fine. Thanks for thinking of me.

Anytime a plane or an airport makes the news, my mother sends me texts me to make sure I wasn't there.  It doesn't really matter either if it happened on the other side of the world and she knows that 99 percent of the time, I fly  domestic.

I will get a text.

If I don't reply, she will call.

More effective than CNN alerts on my phone, friends also will often report about national and international airplane and industry news before I here about it as well. Annoying sometimes, it's helpful too. Especially when I've been on a plane all day without access to news media.

Basically, they're concerned and it always feels good to know that I'm loved.

And honestly in all fairness, I was in Paris on a layover for the first time exactly a month before the recent terrorist incidents. The time I spent there was a wonderful and I look forward to returning someday for a longer stay.

But after last week, Paris won't be the same for a long time if ever.

Just like U.S. airport travel after 9/11, security is much tighter and airport travel is more stressful than ever. This past week, O'hare travelers and employees (myself included) dealt with severe weather delays, diversions and terminal evacuations. All of which I'm sure pushed pre-holiday stress levels to a new limit  for the year.  And of course, all of this was in addition to the usual aircraft mechanical issues and passenger shenanigans.

In my personal work life, I also upped my hours to pay off a few bills before the holiday spending begins. Working back-to-back 14-15 hour days  has been more exhausting than expected. After a full day in bed, I'm almost recovered.

However, I'm still grateful:

-I'm grateful that I had most of the  weekend off and was not at the airport for  Chicago's first snowfall of the season.

-I'm grateful that I'm not on reserve.

-I'm grateful that I got a chance experience the true Paris at night.

-I''m grateful that I got my car winterized last week without going broke.

- I'm grateful that every plane I've been on to date has  taken off and landed safely. No one on my flights have died, been seriously injured nor been arrested. I've been able to get in and out of airports without having to run or duck for cover.

This holiday is going to be a sad one for many. So many families, including my own will be mourning the death of loved ones. While people on the streets will be  laughing and enjoying the season's festivities, others will be crying and just trying to survive .

I think all of us are living in a highly emotional times right now. Finding some sense of normalcy appears to be an impossible task.

Especially when there's an abundance of grief, fear, anger and exhaustion over so many  senseless murders this year.

If we're not careful, these emotions  can overshadow  reason, compassion and hope that defines humanity.

With our last ounce of strength,  we much continue to search for pathways to peace, understanding and solidarity while helping others do the same.


I'm not really sure of a formula.

For me, despite my challenges which seem so trivial most of the time,  today, I'm choosing gratitude  to shine a bit more light on a dim holiday season.

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