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December 23, 2008 Posted by | Christmas, Humor | 3 Comments

“I’ll be home for Christmas – if only in my dreams”

This is a nightmare year for people trying to get home for Christmas in the United States – weeks of storms have caused snarled schedules and cancelled trains and planes, stranding passengers eager to be home with family for Christmas.

Worse – my friends tell me – many groceries have not been resupplied, but that’s OK because many of their customers can’t get to the stores anyway. It’s hit merchants hard in what is already thought to be one of the most dismal selling seasons in a long, long time.

Here’s a write up from National Public Radio:

Winter Storms Frustrate Holiday Travel Nationwide

by Scott Neuman

NPR.org, December 23, 2008 · Bitter cold temperatures and snow have placed the northern half of the nation in a deep freeze, affecting travel in planes, trains and automobiles just as the holiday season gets under way.

Some of the worst winter storms on record have cut a swath from the Pacific Northwest to New England. Across the country, tens of thousands of people are without power after freezing rain and strong winds caused transmission lines to come down.

Heavy snowfall in western Oregon has caused traffic to come to a near standstill along Interstate 5, and state highways through the northern edge of the Coast Range are closed.

Amtrak’s Cascades passenger train service between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver, British Columbia, was halted, but officials said they expected it to resume on Tuesday. Greyhound bus service in Portland and Seattle was also shut down.

At the Seattle-Tacoma airport, thousands of people have been waiting in hours-long lines to re-book canceled flights.

“There’s no flights going into [Las] Vegas that has any available seating,” Air Force Airman Alex James told NPR’s Morning Edition.

James said he and three other Air Force buddies hope to avoid driving from Seattle to Las Vegas, where their families are preparing for the holidays.

“We leave on our deployment on the first of January,” James said. “So, however long it takes us to get back from here is how much reduced our time at home is.”

Alaska and Horizon airlines, the West Coast’s principal carriers, resumed limited service Monday and the carriers said they hoped to resume near-normal schedules Tuesday at Seattle-Tacoma and have things normal flights by Wednesday.

In the East, the town of Eustis, Maine, got nearly 3 1/2 feet of snow. Snow and sleet — but no additional accumulation — are expected Tuesday in the Northeast.

In the nation’s midsection, the situation is just as bad.

In Illinois, which has experienced subzero conditions and wind chills as low as minus 35 degrees in recent days, temperatures are expected to rise into the 20s Tuesday. But with the reprieve will come several inches of snow, according to the forecast.

More snow is expected across the upper Midwest. Michigan could get as much as a foot of snow, while ice, snow and sleet are in the forecast for Indiana, where many people have been without electricity.

Travelers have been stranded in airports as they wait for flights to resume so they can make their way to friends and families for the holidays. Routes to much of the Pacific Northwest have been canceled, and flights to the East Coast, including New York and New Jersey, have been delayed by hours.

You can read the entire article by clicking HERE.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Christmas, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Seattle, Travel, Weather | 5 Comments

The Year of the Secret Santa

santa-christmas-deers

One year AdventureMan was attending school in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, a special school to train men who aspired to the highest ranks of the military. There were lots and lots of families, all approximately the same age group, and there were lots of family activities. For many of us, it was one of the few times we were stationed in the United States. It was also a high-testosterone, highly competitive environment.

We lived on a small, unique street, about half students and half permanent party – teachers, instructors, people who were not part of the huge student cadre. The “old-timers” organized us into a neighborhood. We had block parties, we babysat one another’s kids, we went to auctions together, and we kept each other’s secrets. Best of all – they introduced us to Secret Santa.

Just before Thanksgiving, we had a potluck and drew names. Each family drew the name of another family, and until the Christmas party, when you revealed whose name you had, you acted as Secret Santa to that family.

It’s funny – I can’t remember all the things that were done for us or things we did for our family; all I can remember is that we had a LOT of fun, and not a single one of us knew who our Secret Santa was. I remember that one of the guest speakers at the school was an old friend of my husband’s. He came to dinner at our house, and after dinner, we asked him to move his car to our Secret Santa family, and then deliver a breakfast bread to them. He was sort-of famous, and when he showed up at the Secret Santa family with the bread, we were hiding upstairs in a darkened bedroom, watching, and we could see the amazement on their faces when this revered gentleman delivered the bread. They were astounded he would be delivering their Secret Santa gift, and they could not imagine whose friend he might be. Oh, what fun!

Baked goods, toys, snow shoveled off the walks, handmade Christmas ornaments – it was all so much fun. At the Christmas dinner, when we all revealed who we had been Santa to, there were shouts of joy and whoops of laughter. Best of all, it really knit us together as a neighborhood, doing good to one another. It was one of the very best Christmas times I can remember.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Christmas, Community, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Relationships | 3 Comments

Good Morning, Kuwait

Another gorgeous winter day dawning in Kuwait, with a high expected around 77°R/25°C today, while my poor family in the US is shivering with cold. I have a good friend who had three different family members stranded in three different airports, trying to get home for Christmas, and snow accumulating up to 18 inches while she prays for their safe arrivals.

00sunrise23dec08

Have a sweet day, Kuwait. :-)

I will spend the day preparing for major meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Mom, I am making your Cranberry Salad. :-)

00cranberries

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, ExPat Life, Food, Holiday, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 5 Comments

   

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