One of the things I like most about travel is that it provides a constant stream of new experiences. Even the most habitual of activities can offer differing results depending on the country, language or time of year they take place in. Take flying, for example. Since my first flight at the ripe old age of five, I've been on countless airplanes, but had never flown on Christmas Day. After last year's disastrous attempt at going home for the holidays on the day before Christmas Eve, during which my first plane was delayed because of fog, my second plane was delayed because of snow, I sprinted from one end of Chicago's O'Hare airport to the other in full winter get-up while dragging two heavy carry-ons, and became one of the only people in the history of aviation to be allowed to board the plane after its door has been shut, I decided to never again fly on one of the busiest travel days of the year. So, I booked a ticket for the 25th and set out to discover what it would be like to spend a major holiday on the road.
I knew I had made the right decision when travelers across the country started dealing with cancellations and sleepness nights at the airport two days before Christmas. Instead of joining in their misery as I had last year, I spent the 23rd and 24th doing a little shopping and relaxing before the big day. When Christmas morning finally arrived, I packed up my things, hopped on the metro, and arrived at a very quiet and calm Ronald Reagan National Airport. No long lines at check-in or security, no stressed out travelers trying desperately to get home, no delays because of weather. Nothing but smooth sailing. And because it was Christmas Day, everyone from the gate agents to the passengers themselves seemed to be in an unusually cheery mood. I even got to know many of my fellow travelers as we were all looking to chat and enjoy the company of others during the holiday.
The best part of the trip came at the end. As we were making our final descent into Minneapolis I snapped out of my iPod daze to notice that a lot of people were taking pictures out the plane windows. Turning to look, I realized what all the fuss was about. The sky was filled with one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. Everything was bright red, and when the clouds finally parted, we could see the perfectly snowy, perfectly Christmasy landscape below. I grabbed my own camera and caught some nice shots of the city all aglow on Christmas Day. We were home, and December 25th officially became my favorite day to travel.