This year two days before Christmas, I reported to work at the Denver International Airport and found the expected long lines, and hustling crowds. As I came up the escalator into the gate area, I saw something I didn’t expect. My older sister Brande was standing at the top of the escalator with a big grin on her face.
Every Christmas Brande and I (along with our numerous other siblings) would cram into the family station wagon and go over the river and through the woods to Granny and Grampy’s house for Christmas Dinner. When I say cram, I mean squeeze in so close you can barely breathe. You never heard the proverbial – “She’s touching me!” – because someone was always touching you. They were practically sitting in your lap!
Of course, this was long before the invention of portable electronic games, mobile TV, or portable DVD players. So, we had to invent games to keep us busy. One of our favorite games was counting cows (sounds like so much fun doesn’t it?).
To play the game you divide into teams based on which side of the car you were squeezed into. Then you started counting the cows that passed on your side of the vehicle. If you passed a church, you added two more. If you passed a school, you multiplied by two. But if you passed a graveyard, and your opponents from the other side of the vehicle actually saw it, you had to bury your cows and start from scratch all over again.
It doesn’t sound like much of a game, but when you are jammed into a station wagon like sardines, anything to take your mind off of the fact that your brother just passed gas, is a fun game.
As I got to the top of the escalator, I gave Brande a great big hug. As it turned out, she was going to Nashville and I was going to be her Captain. We visited until the aircraft arrived at the gate, and then I got to work preparing for the flight. Once my preparations were complete, I hurried up the jet way and boarded my sister first, thanks to the accommodating operations agent.
I put her in the First Officer’s seat, and we took a picture together. We sat there in the cockpit of the Boeing 737 and caught up on the latest family news. We discussed kids, grandkids, and the health issues of the day until it was time to board the rest of the passengers.
After everyone boarded, I made my usual announcements about the flying time and the weather, but I made sure that everyone knew that my big sister was on board. I didn’t embarrass her though. She knows too many things about me, and she has pictures.
The flight from Denver to Nashville lasted only a few minutes longer than our usual Christmas drive to Granny and Grampy’s house. We cruised in comfort at a smooth 35,000 feet and averaged over 500 hundred miles an hour because of a nice tailwind. Ironically enough, our flight path into Nashville took us almost over the top of Granny’s house.
I put a little extra effort into the landing to impress my sister, and we taxied to the gate. Since I had a little time before my next flight, I walked her to security. We embraced again, shared our affection, and said our farewells.
As she walked away, I was bummed that we flew too high to count cows during the flight. It was just as well. I passed a graveyard on my side as we approached the runway and she would have won.
Merry Christmas Brande!
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 23, 2010 at Thursday, December 23, 2010 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .