by Bob Sparrow
No, this isn’t the counterpoint to my last post on all that is good about air travel. In fact one of the reasons I have such a positive attitude towards air travel is that I don’t travel during the holidays. Whoever created the phrase, ‘holiday travel’ took the fun out of two of my favorite words. I love the holidays and I love to travel, but together you’ve got the beginnings of ‘the nightmare before Christmas’. If you’re trying to fly somewhere the nightmares feature things like delayed flight, missed connections, lost luggage, sitting on an airplane next to a guy with reindeer breath and practicing your ‘Just what I wanted’ expression when you get that battery operated recycled toilet paper dispenser. If you’re driving, the nightmares are about jammed freeways, road rage, kids screaming “Are-we-there-yet?” and the practicing of, “They just fit” when trying on those new glow-in-the-dark plastic socks.
Gone are the days when we could just go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house and enjoy some of her homemade Chocolate Chip cookies. Today grandma lives in a downtown, high-rise condo, six hours away where parking is limited and expensive – and the cookies are gluten-free.
Holiday travel, indeed. Shouldn’t there be a term for ruining two perfectly good words by juxtaposing them? I’m sure there are lots of similar two-word combinations that shouldn’t be joined. Here’s one that immediately comes to mind; the word ‘love’ is one of the best words around and ‘child’ is also a great word, but put them together and you’ve got . . . a bastard! Shouldn’t there be a name for these kinds of words, I mean paired words like ‘Civil war’ or ‘jumbo shrimp’ are oxymorons, so maybe we name words like ‘love child’ and ‘holiday travel’ oxybastards.
How could they do that to two such beautiful words? Etymologically speaking, the word holiday is derived from the words ‘Holy Day’, so the term originally had religious connotations, but today it seems that the closest any holiday comes to religion is when someone says, ‘Thank God I don’t have to go to work today” or “Can you believe this god-awful traffic?.” Holiday actually is a . . . never mind, what I really wanted to talk about was ‘travel’, because today in the mail I received the National Geographic Traveler magazine featuring their 2nd Annual Best of the World – 20 Must-See Places for 2013 – great reading for a raining Sunday afternoon where I can reverse the aforementioned oxybastard and dream about and plan a ‘travel holiday’. There now, doesn’t that sound much better?
I rarely think of those two words, no matter what the order, and not think of Bob Hope traveling half way around the world every Christmas to entertain our troops. He started during World War II when he island-hopped throughout the south Pacific in 1944 to the tune of some 30,000 miles while performing over 150 USO shows. He travel to Korea during that war (Sorry, conflict) and did shows in Viet Nam every Christmas from 1964 to 1972. He also did Christmas performances during Desert Storm (1990-91) for the troops in Iraq and the Persian Gulf. Bob Hope was a ‘holiday traveler’ for 50 years, going wherever our troops were stationed. Now it wasn’t all toil and drudgery, he typically traveled in a troupe that included the likes of Ursula Andress, Anne Margaret, Carroll Baker and Raquel Welch, which for those too young to remember those beauties, today it would be like having to spend Christmas with Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and Salma Hayek. Hope was known to crack, “I bring them along to remind the boys what they’re fighting for.”
There is no place like home for the holidays, but those who will travel and perhaps experience ‘holiday travel’ nightmares before Christmas, might be well-served to remember when you’re flight is delayed or the traffic is backed up and even when you receive that re-gifted fruit cake, Bob Hope’s amazing sacrifice during a time when he most wanted to be home and today’s service men and women all over the world who will be home for the holiday only in their dreams.