It all started when Joseph Luppe’s flight from Vancouver to Toronto was cancelled on Dec. 20 because of bad weather. 

Joseph, a student at the University of British Columbia, was planning to travel back home to his family in Wood Islands, P.E.I., for Christmas. But like many Canadians this holiday season, his travels did not go as planned.

“I wasn’t mad or anything,” Joseph said about his travel woes. “I was just kind of surprised at how, like, ridiculous everything was. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong that night.”

After his first flight was cancelled, Joseph was rescheduled for another to Montreal on Dec. 26. He said he was disappointed he couldn’t get back home for Christmas Day, but when we spoke to his mother on the phone, they realized it wasn’t the worst that could happen.

“Christmas is really, it’s just a day. We could have Christmas whenever we wanted to.”

But that was just the start of Joseph’s travel disruptions.

With storms across the country on Christmas weekend this year, thousands of Canadians faced cancellations and delays in plane and train rides. Even though the weather is now clearing, many have still not reached their destination.

‘It was a joyous homecoming

Joseph’s flight to Montreal was delayed on Dec. 26, so he missed his connection to Charlottetown. 

As he arrived in Montreal late at night, the airline told him they’d put him on standby for the next day’s flight, and they gave him a voucher for a nearby hotel. 

But when he took a cab to the address, Joseph said there was no hotel there — just a frame where a building once stood. 

“I don’t really know what to do now,” Joseph said, recalling the incident.

Dec. 28, 2022joseph-and-kathy-luppe.jpg 780w,!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_1180/joseph-and-kathy-luppe.jpg 1180w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 300px,(max-width: 460px) 460px,(max-width: 620px) 620px,(max-width: 780px) 780px,(max-width: 1180px) 1180px” src=”!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/joseph-and-kathy-luppe.jpg” style=”aspect-ratio:1.3333333333333333″/>
Joseph and Kathy Luppe decorate their family Christmas tree on Dec. 28. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

He said his cab driver was nice enough to take him to the nearest hotel. When he got up the next morning, his mother called with good news: she’d booked him a flight to Sydney, N.S.

Kathy Luppe, Joseph’s mother, said after booking the flight, the family had to immediately get in the car to drive six and a half hours to get to Sydney. She was worried the entire ride over that Joseph’s flight would get cancelled again.

“It’s almost like a surreal thing because I said, ‘Until I see him, until I see his physical person walk through, I still, I have a hard time believing … we’re really going to see him,” said Kathy, who’s a retired teacher.

But see him they did. Joseph finally landed in the Maritimes on Dec. 27, a week after his original flight.

Dec.28, 2022christmas-stockings.jpg 460w,!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_620/the-luppes-s-christmas-stockings.jpg 620w,!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/the-luppes-s-christmas-stockings.jpg 780w,!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_1180/the-luppes-s-christmas-stockings.jpg 1180w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 300px,(max-width: 460px) 460px,(max-width: 620px) 620px,(max-width: 780px) 780px,(max-width: 1180px) 1180px” src=”!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_780/the-luppes-s-christmas-stockings.jpg” style=”aspect-ratio:1.3333333333333333″/>
Stockings are hung up now in the Luppe home to celebrate Christmas. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

“He did a very big happy dance right there in the airport,” Kathy said.

“It was a joyous homecoming. We had a big family hug.”

Resuming family traditions

This Christmas was an extra special one for the Luppes as they just moved to P.E.I. in August. The family hadn’t been able to celebrate their regular Christmas in years as Kathy and her husband had been teaching in Saudi Arabia.

“The last six years, Christmas has been transient,” Kathy said. 

“We’ve traveled to a different country or we’ve had to meet up in an Airbnb and, you know, just make do with this or that.”

But with Joseph back home, the family finally celebrated the holidays together like they did in years past. Wednesday was the family’s Christmas Eve, and they spent the day decorating their tree, opening advent calendars and drinking hot chocolate. 

Even the Luppes’ extended family in Charlottetown held off on celebrating Christmas this year until Joseph came home. 

Despite the trouble the it took for Joseph to get home, Kathy said it was all for the best.

“When bad things happen or you’re disappointed, there’s always a flip side. There’s a silver lining, and the waiting is worth it.”

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