We live in Colorado. Our families, by and large, still dwell in places throughout the Midwest. Year after year this generates some degree of conflict, particularly when it comes time for celebrating the holidays. For this holiday season, we celebrated Grady Christmas on the ever traditional weekend of the first weekend of November. For the Tibbett holiday celebration, then, we coordinated an early January celebration. Actually, it was planned to coincide with my 45th birthday, because who wouldn’t want to travel to the frigid midwest to stay in remote, rural Wisconsin with his in-laws on their 45th birthday!!!
Our travel adventure actually started on the evening of January 11, a Thursday. We’ve had the good fortune of scoring excellent ticket pricing on most of our trips via plane to Minneapolis, the closest airport that services our home town. This time we were able to fly the whole crew, all five of us for less than $500 in airfare, which is nothing short of remarkable. Add to it that we travel with Mireille, who is 5, and qualifies us as a family traveling with a child 6 or younger, so we all even got to sit together on the plane!
The flight was pretty low-key, everything was on time. When we landed in Minneapolis, however, we were greeted by what I’m told was one of the first substantial snow events of the season. I thought the roads would be OK since the snow was to have stopped by earlier in the day, but by the time we got on the road around 11:30 PM local time, we found the roads to be quite slippery and dangerous. The plan was to drive to Neillsville that evening, but we called an audible and imposed on my brother, Blaine, who lives only a couple of miles from the airport, and stayed with him.
The next day, with the sun shining, we cleaned up our mess at Blaine’s as best we could and finally did the drive back to Neillsville, which we reached with little incident before lunch. It was during this drive, and through the weekend, that we reflected on the various things that we both miss and don’t miss about our home in the midwest. Being around for family celebrations is nice, but none of us miss that cold!!! Wow! Never ceases to surprise you.
I was at once excited and nervous for the accommodations for the weekend. I like to title it an “Amish Weekend.” Since my father-in-law’s death in 2016, Shirley has gone through and removed the things she just didn’t need around anymore. Two very important things for my kids that were on the expendable list were Satellite Television and, gasp, Internet! I do like when they don’t have any option to even use those things because it forces them to find other things to do, even if it is to pick a DVD to watch in the DVD player.
Friday was largely calm. We spent some quality time with Jenny’s mom. Quinton actually spent some time doing homework. Later in the day, all of us but Mireille went to the local bowling alley to partake in a Tibbett family tradition, golfing. Just kidding, bowling. The bowling was not great, at least not performed well by my family in any way, shape, or form, but we did have a good time. Quinton even made some new friends as he flexed his gambling addiction while trying to win coins from one of those coin machines. He was really in his element by having all of those young ladies paying attention to him while spending his mom’s money.
Christmas was on Saturday. The plan was for people to show up a little after noon and to start eating around 1:00 Central. That was too long for my kids to be good, apparently. Quinton and Ethan, being bored, decided to see whether or not they could lift one another. Amazingly, Ethan was able to lift Quinton who only weights about 20 pounds less than him, but when Quinton tried to lift Ethan, he fell down and smacked his head on a wooden chair. He didn’t initially cry or anything, but Ethan took a look at him and said, “Quin, you are bleeding.” Which he was. I took a look at it and immediately diagnosed the need for stitches, so off we were to Neillsville Memorial Medical Center for some holiday fun there!
It wasn’t a bad trip. The nice part about going to a rural hospital emergency room is that you rarely have to wait around to see somebody. Quinton, Ethan (yeah, he came along - he felt bad that he had been the cause of this), and I pretty much waited for about 5 minutes before Dr. Jones was able to take a look. He confirmed my diagnosis, stitches. Quinton kept asking if they “had numb.” I had to translate for Dr. Jones that Quinton wanted assurance that they would use a numbing cream so he wouldn’t feel the needle. They did have numb, despite being a rural hospital!
About 2 hours and 6 stitches later, we were able to come back just in time for lunch to be served.
Luckily, that was about the climax of the weekend. On Sunday we traveled back to Minneapolis because we had an early flight on Monday morning. So we decided to spend the afternoon with Bryce and his Family and Uncle Blaine. Bryce’s new dog, Lucy, took an immediate shine to Mireille. Since Lucy is a puppy, taking a shine means that she tackles and mouths you! That freaked Mireille out a little bit, but she still loves dogs, and still thinks she is one from time to time!
We left Ethan with the youngest kids and took Quinton and Loudon out to eat with us. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go where we wanted to go since it was snowing yet again! Every trip I’ve taken to the midwest this winter has been hampered by snow!!! Despite that, we were able to find a good restaurant with some nice beers on tap where we would watch the Minnesota Vikings pull off the “Minne Miracle,” a last second touchdown against the Saints that would send them to the NFC Championship. Despite it being the Vikings, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement being in the belly of the beast, so to speak.
We slept at Blaines, but had a 5:30 AM flight, so we were up at 2:45 (1:45 Mountain), and landed back in Denver and were home before 8:00 AM local time. It was a tough travel itinerary, but a nice trip overall. Next time I go to the midwest, however, I’m hoping it is summertime so I won’t have to contend with snow and winter!!!