The Grinch Who Didn't Steal Christmas

The Grinch Who Didn't Steal Christmas

A Story by Delores Jordan

This is a true story. It was published as an essay in CHRISTMAS IS A SEASON 2008, Excalibur Press, Linda Busby Parker, Editor






N. L. Snowden

My daughter tried to break it to me gently. There was no easy way to tell me that that she would be leaving me alone for the holidays. After the collapse of my twenty-year marriage, I had to face my first Christmas without her. My daughter was going to spend the holidays with her dad and his family. I thought it unfair. After all, he had his parents, brothers and sisters, their children and his son by a previous marriage. My parents were dead and my sister lived too far away and was busy with her family, so I had no one but my daughter. After a year, I'd finally stopped crying daily because of my loneliness. Being alone for Christmas would open up that valve again.

For her sake, I put on a brave front that she saw right through, but we both played the game that Mom was going to be okay. It had only been a year since I'd try to kill myself when my husband left me. Would this set me off again? Had I grown enough into the acceptance stage that I could make it through Christmas without resorting to another suicide attempt? I knew I needed to depend on my divergent thinking skills in order to save my life.

Of course, I spent the next week being depressed and moping around. I knew I had to pull myself out of my funk, or I'd end up in a mental hospital. I had two choices for Christmas day: make the most of it and do something I really wanted to do, or wallow in self-pity and be miserable. What did I love to do almost as much as I loved my daughter? What could make me happy on the saddest day of my life?


I love to fly. The adrenalin rush as a jet revs up its engine has always titillated me. I know, the sexual connotations are strange, but the rush is very similar for me. Why not spend the whole day flying? I'd have my day filled with something I considered the best of the best, and it would take my mind off my loneliness. And what day of the year would airfares be at their cheapest? No one would fly because everyone would be busy with family and businesses would come to a grinding halt. Christmas Day of course!

Sure enough, the rates were within my range, on my limited income, to purchase a round trip ticket from Mobile to La Guardia Airport in New York City. I picked that location because I calculated it would fill the entire day with flying, airports, and chasing connecting flights. I logged on to the Internet and purchased my ticket.

The requirement that I needed to be there two hours early for security worked perfectly in my plans to save my sanity. I arose at six o'clock in the morning; then I drove my truck to the post office across from the airport and parked it. Too chintzy to pay parking, I knew the post office parking lot would be empty.

It was a peculiar flight from the start. First, when I went through security, I'd forgotten that my little sterling silver pocketknife was in one of the zipper compartments of my purse. Of course, X-ray picked it up, and since I had no luggage to check, that was a terrorist red flag. I also have dark hair, but my fair skin and blue eyes saved me. Security yanked me out of line, not roughly, but quickly. As soon as the X-ray machine picked up the knife, the stir amongst airport security entertained a grand total of five passengers at my expense.

Another cardinal rule of flying that flagged me as a suspect was that my round trip ticket had me leaving and returning on the same day. Hmm, now why would anyone do that? It must have been my sugar dripping Southern drawl that convinced them I was just a kook and not a terrorist. After a thorough search, they let me buy a stamp, and handed me an envelope to mail my knife back to myself, I guess because they saw it was dainty but was useless due to its size and dullness. Of course, once I left and returned from my postal run, I had to go back through security. They checked me again, just in case. With so few people flying, they recognized that I was the kook.

When the jet taxied out, anticipation of the takeoff was almost like a sexual high for me, especially since anything orgasmic was something I'd done without during the past year. As we took off, I felt my cheeks loosen into a grin and knew I'd done the right thing by blowing so much money. I'd pay the price for my indulgence the following month when the credit card bill came in, and I would have to fit the payment into my already tight budget, but it was worth it. The day was beautiful, perfect for flying. That is, until we approached the Atlanta area.

My dad had been a pilot and we owned a plane when I was growing up. I can remember the excitement as a child taking the controls. I got so good at flying that he'd take naps while I navigated the plane to an obscure airport for us to land, drink coffee, shoot the bull, and return home in the same day. A day of flying brought back strong feelings of adventure and happy memories. Really, this wasn't such an odd thing for me to do.

My sense of recall brought my attention to the sounds and motions of the plane. I realized the pilot was having a problem as we started to land when I felt the slight jerk of the wings as the wind whipped them, tipping them side to side. I knew, as we got closer to the ground, that the wing could easily nick the runway, if our pilot didn't counteract the movement as soon as he sensed it. Looking around at the other passengers, I could see that no one was concerned, except me. I thought to myself, well, this is the best way I can think of to head home to Glory. Fortunately, our pilot was great as he brought the plane in perfectly smooth and steady.

I walked down the terminal surprised at the food court's operation on Christmas Day. The smells of international flavors tempted me. Kabobs and humus wafted their exotic scents to my already hungry stomach. Humus is one of my all time favorite foods, but I was more worried about my connecting flight than I was hungry so I looked around, squared my shoulders and tried not to appear as petrified as I felt.

I had a long layover in Atlanta, which suited this country hick just fine. Afraid of getting myself lost in the Atlanta airport and missing my flight filled me with gut-wrenching anxiety. The recent divorce had left me unsure of myself. When my husband of twenty years walked out on me, he took my dignity with him. To my surprise and delight, the airport was easy to negotiate and the clearly labeled signs were easy to follow so I would know where to go.

After purchasing my ticket, I was down to only ten dollars. I wanted to celebrate with a nice Kahlua and Cream, but the budget couldn't handle anything extra. I went to the waiting area of my next connecting flight. The escalators scared me, as I feared my foot would get hung up as the steps closed, but I thought the moving sidewalks were fun. And riding the underground train was a thrill. I exited the train to find my terminal and gate. I had a long walk but I enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds and the general hustle and bustle of trying to catch our next flight.

I couldn't believe how many people were flying on Christmas Day at The Atlanta International Airport. I found my terminal and settled down to reading, The Hermit King by William Cobb, but I found myself distracted by the variety of people flying around me. Were they also in a lonely heart's club or overachievers for their companies?

My eyes opened to the knowledge that a whole segment of the population around Atlanta did not treat December twenty-fifth as a special day. For me it would always be exceptional because it was my mother's birthday, not to mention it also used to be our telephone number when growing up. This made me sad to remember my own childhood Christmases. Daddy officially started my family's Christmas Day with the statement, "This year I'm not going to open any of my Christmas presents." I missed that tradition now that he was gone. I knew I'd start crying if I didn't busy myself, so I went back to reading my book.

After just one chapter of reading, they called us to board flight 292 to NYC. Once aboard, I looked out my window for the windsock. To my relief, it was limp, so I knew our takeoff would go very smoothly because the crosswinds had died down. I watched the tall buildings of Atlanta fade away. By the time I arrived in New York, the sun was starting to set, and before we landed at LaGuardia, I took a breathtaking photo of the sun right above the wing, a beautiful cadmium orange orb surrounded by a dusty azure sky.

I had a thirty-minute layover, then I had to board the plane and head back home. Due to time and money constraints, I purchased a Wendy's hamburger with a Coke for my Christmas dinner. I had to stop and gaze at the weary traveler sculpture that looked just like a person slumped against the wall grabbing a quick nap. It was so lifelike. The terminal was set up like a nave in a cathedral with wings. To the left were the food courts and to the right were the gift shops. The terminals and gates intersected both. Of course, the first time, I went the wrong way, nearly missing my flight call.

The flight attendant did a double take and walked back to me to ask me if I'd been asleep and forgotten to get off the plane. I told her what I was doing and she laughed at my crazy way to spend Christmas. We took off in a smoky twilight. My layover in Atlanta was short, and I had to push myself to make my connecting flight. I arrived back in Mobile at nine o'clock, contented and assured that I had everything I needed to make my life a daily adventure. This is one Christmas that the Grinch didn't steal.

© 2012 Delores Jordan

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Added on September 8, 2012
Last Updated on September 8, 2012
Tags: divorce, alone, Christmas, flying


Delores Jordan
Delores Jordan

Mobile, AL

I'm the author of many short stories and had my short stories, essays, art, photography, and poems printed in literary magazines and anthologies. I love to write. I'm a member of two critique groups:.. more..