I was so excited. It was my first time in five years going to see my family for Christmas and I was bringing my boyfriend for the first time to meet my family. Usually, I would be caught up in work and not able to go home for the holidays. But I finally had the time off and the man of my dreams to spend the holiday with, along with my family. It was already going to be the best Christmas ever. And it came at the best time, my grandfather had been really sick about a month ago and the rest of my family were very concerned about his health. So on top of just wanting to see my family for this major holiday, there was a chance it would be the last Christmas I would get to spend with my grandfather. I think it goes without saying, that with all that in mind, Christmas this year had to be perfect, no exceptions.
“Hey, babe you ready to go to the airport.”
“Yes, I am! You know it’s not too late to back out of meeting my family. They’re a little nutty so if you're going to run, now’s your chance.”
“Hey I already told you, I’m not going anywhere. Plus if I can handle you and your craziness, I’m sure I’ll be fine with them.” I scoff jokingly as Manthan laughs and goes to hug me. I pretend to be mad and turn from him as he kisses me all over. “I’m just kidding…”
“Oh I know, because I may be crazy but we both know you’re crazy about me.” We both smile at each other and grab our things to head out to catch a cab. In the car ride to the airport, I go through a whirlwind of emotions. I’m so incredibly excited to see my family, but I’m nervous about whether or not my family will love Manthan as much as I do. Of course, there’s also the real big one, I’m terrified at the thought that some family members won’t be there next time I make it home for Christmas.
We make it to the airport and make sure our flight is on-time. After a few seconds, we find it and all seems to be in order. Once we get through security, grab some food because I can’t resist expensive airport food, and sit at our gate, there is an announcement that some of the flights are getting delayed due to bad weather conditions. Of course, seeing as how we were traveling to Chicago, I started getting nervous. I check the app for American Air and of course, our flight is one of the lucky ones that got delayed. Now I’m really freaking out, we already weren’t going to get in until about ten-thirty, and we were supposed to get to my grandparent's house just in time for giving gifts at midnight. It literally could not have been more perfect. But now there’s no way that is going to happen if my plane is delayed even for just an hour or so. I run up to the counter to see if I can talk to anyone about the delay.
“Hi, um quick question, how long is the flight to Chicago expected to be delayed?”
“As of right now it looks like maybe an hour or two, but they are expecting a pretty bad snowstorm so it might get moved to first thing tomorrow.” I kid you not I could have burst into tears right there and then. To say I was now crushed, was sugar coding it. I slum my way back to my boyfriend and take my seat next to him silently.
“What’s wrong babe?”
“The flight is delayed at least an hour or two, and there’s a chance it might get moved to tomorrow morning.” He didn’t say anything. He knew me well enough to know the extent of how upset I was, even though to some people this just might seem like a minor change in plans. From the day we booked the flight I kept going on about how this Christmas, for so many reasons, had to be perfect. He just wrapped his arms around me and squeezed. And of course, me being the emotional wreck that I always am, this made me start to sob. This could not be worse.
We waited an hour after we were supposed to board the plane, and then two, and when hour number three came by I got a call from my grandfather. I had to take a moment to breathe before I could answer the phone.
“Hey kiddo, did you land yet?”
“Uh, no, we actually haven’t even left Seattle yet…”
“What, so you’re not gonna be here by tonight?” Just hearing him ask the question broke my heart, I had to try so hard not to break down crying right then and there.
“No, unfortunately not, but by the latest I’ll be there tomorrow morning. So don’t worry I’m coming. “ Silence. “But you guys should still open presents tonight, you don’t have to wait for me.”
“Alright kiddo, can’t wait to see you. Love you.”
“Love you too. Bye.” Now things were worse. It was about nine thirty on Christmas Eve and I was stuck at a Seattle airport while my whole family was out in Chicago. I looked at my boyfriend and told him I had to run to the bathroom. We both knew it was because I needed a moment to cry alone. I felt like I was being punished for all the times I didn’t make it home for this time of year so the world figured it would now be the one to say I couldn't go. What made it really hurt was other than the passengers from my plane it seemed like the airport was nearly empty. I started to envy all those people who made their flights and got to see their families on time. But also being the person I am I immediately felt guilty for it. I took a breath, cleaned my face, and walked back over to where Manthan was. When I got to our seats by the gate he wasn’t there. “Manthan. Manthan!” Great, as if things weren’t already bad enough.
My brain starts to scramble and my heart starts to race when I feel a light tap on my shoulder. It was Manthan.
“Ugh don’t do that you scared me.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I just know you’re really upset so I wanted to get these to maybe make you feel better.” He was holding a bouquet of red roses. Typical Manthan. Always knowing how to put a smile on my face. And of course his favorite way to do this was by getting me roses, whether or not he had an actual reason to. My prince charming. I hugged him with all my might.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
We found a corner on the floor to get comfortable, seeing as how it looked like we were going to be spending the night here. It still was a bit of a struggle to not cry myself to sleep as I began to drift off. I look at my phone and it’s exactly midnight.
“Wow. Midnight on Christmas Eve at the airport. Best Christmas ever…”
“Wait did you say midnight?” I could feel him about to pull some dumb joke and I was not in the mood.
“Yes babe, it’s midnight, Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas to you too baby.” To my surprise he was holding out a gift with a big smirk on his face. I just looked at him half confused, but also half curious. “Well you know I figured, we were supposed to be opening gifts right now anyway, well not if you count the time change. So I figured you should still get to open at least one gift.” Again, the most amazing guy ever, always knowing how to make me feel better. I sit up filled with gity and slowly open the small wrapped box. It’s a jewelry box, you know one of the velvet ones that jewelry from the really nice and expensive jewelry stores comes in. I pause and look at him then look back at the box and my heart stops. Simply because I’m the kind of girl that it doesn’t take much to make me happy, and here we are on our first Christmas together and I already know he got me something really special. I open the box to see a fine silver chain necklace with two penguins on it. One in diamonds, one in gold. I immediately started to cry, happy tears this time.
“You’re always saying how you love penguins, so when I saw this, I thought it was perfect.” I was speechless. I just grabbed him and kissed him. I loved it. It was by far the most special gift I had ever received from anyone. And even though we were in the last place I would ever want to be on Christmas all while away from my family, I still spent it with the most amazing human being on earth, with a gift I will cherish forever. So at the end of the day, even though it wasn’t quite the perfect Christmas I might have imagined, for what I did have in that moment, it couldn’t have been more perfect. Especially since once I do see my family tomorrow I can brag to everyone how great my man is.