The rest of Wednesday, December 16 was spent in preparations for going to Iowa AND flying to Utah. Andrew ran errands with the kids while I packed. We had a late dinner and went to bed.
Thursday we finished packing and cleaning and drove to Iowa. The kids settled right in playing with toys while Andrew and I unpacked. I had the thought to look in my closet and found the journal Grandma Blomquist kept for the first few years of my life. I read about the day I was blessed and I had the idea to bless Laura – who she is named after – in her home.
Friday was a slow day. Mom spent most of the time on the phone making funeral arrangements.
Saturday we wrapped the presents we brought to give to my family. Emily made books for everyone. We gave each of my siblings a redbox code, popcorn, and candy. We gave my dad a classic John Deere children’s book. We gave my family the tic stack toe game.
Once presents were wrapped we took our little Jackson group outside to clean up leaves in the backyard and turn them into the garden boxes. We had quiet time and then CHRISTMAS! We spent the afternoon slowly opening gifts. Grandma Blomquist had mailed all of our Christmas presents a week earlier so we each opened our very last gift from her.
The missionaries joined us for our Christmas Eve dinner. We squeezed as many Christmas traditions into one day as possible.
On Sunday (the real Christmas Eve) we went to church, loaded up the car, and drove to Chicago. The weather was horrible. Andrew, the kids and I had a direct flight to Salt Lake taking off around 8pm. My parents and siblings had a layover in Denver, CO and their flight getting to Denver was already delayed quite late. As we drove Andrew and I had the idea to see if we could switch my mom’s and Andrew’s tickets so that my mom would make it to Salt Lake City that night. I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect about traveling without Andrew but we really wanted my mom to get out to Utah ASAP. We had been praying all day for things to work out.
When we got to the airport my parents walked up to the counter to see if my mom could get on the direct flight. The lady at the desk said there was actually room for all five of them to switch to the direct flight, no questions asked. The way the boarding passes printed out all nine of us were seated together in the middle of the plane, even though we had checked in the day before and weren’t associated with them in any way. Even more amazing – the flight was completely full and we waited for every single person who was supposed to get on the plane for their flights to come in (we left two hours late). I have no idea how there was room for my family on that flight. Big, big miracle.
Fun facts about flying Christmas Eve to Christmas morning (we landed after midnight): the typical emergency procedures is a poem modeled after “Twas a Night Before Christmas”; the flight attendants dress up as elves; everyone is particularly patient and kind; the airport blasts Christmas music as everyone walks off the plane; we passed Santa in the sky.
Andrew’s parents met us at the airport with Andrew’s cousins van. On our drive out to Iowa Andrew’s cousin Carrie called me out of the blue. When we told her we were heading out her way she offered her van, pack n play, infant car seat, and yellow sweater (needed for the funeral – we all dressed in my grandma’s favorite color). This was another miracle that made our trip so much easier. Andrew drove us to Provo in a crazy snow storm. We were a little nervous about traveling on I-15 in the conditions but at 2:30am we had the roads almost to ourselves. We were settled in Provo around 3am – 5am Indiana time.