Traveling this week is becoming a tradition. The girls and I have gone over Christmas the past three years. It works well when your children have different schedules and vacation is a premium. But as a girl who grew up in northern Minnesota, where your father had to shovel snow away from the windows so you could escape in case of a fire, being somewhere warm over Christmas still seems odd. I grew up in a Christian household where Santa was sold. To me Santa was paired with snow, not sand.
Today I recall one of my first holiday seasons away from the cold, which just happened to be my first airplane ride as well. It was in 1988 when I was a senior at the College of Saint Benedict. I was a nursing major and we were being recruited by the Air Force since there was a shortage of nurses. They offered to fly us to Florida to visit a base. How could I say no to a free escape from the cold and my very first airplane ride?
My very first flight, at age 21, was on a United States Air Force C-130! I look back and realize how adventurous I was at that age. I didn't know anyone going on the trip and it didn't matter. The C-130 is a cargo plane so no pretzels and G&Ts at 30,000 feet...oh no. It was an open airplane with no sound proofing, but earplugs were handed out upon entry. Our luggage sat at our feet (no roller bags my youngsters) and your seat belt was an over-the-shoulder harness. There was no bathroom, but we could ride up front with the pilots as long as we wanted. It was awesome!!
|My Young Self at 21 sitting on the Pilot's Lap|
|The Nursing Recruits|
|Inside a C-130|
I end with this photo of me, with my first Santa in warmth and my first holiday on the beach. I made him leave his post at Walmart to stand next to a palm tree because I thought it was so cool! I remember repeating over and over "this is so weird to see Santa while it is warm outside!" I'm looking forward to seeing a few this week while enjoying the warmth of South Padre Island with my girls.
In the beach photo I am with my then new friend Genie, who I ended up working with at Mayo after graduating the following spring. Genie was most likely one of the first friends I made while traveling solo.
No, I did not join the Air Force, but I did have a lot of fun seeing what life would be like as an Officer in the Air Force, during a long weekend in December of 1988.
For those celebrating, I hope you have a joyous Christmas Eve and sleep in anticipation of the Big Guy's arrival tomorrow.
|Rae Ann in Green|
|Genie and Rae Ann|