Today’s family Christmas story centers more on the joys (note the sarcasm implied) of the weather, and how it can make or break a great holiday.
This happened a few years ago. Now, I can only tell this story from my perspective, and what me and my family went through, so I don’t have all the details, only what was relayed to me after the fact.
It’s Christmas Eve, and me and my family had been planning to go to my parent’s house to open gifts, come home, open our Christmas morning presents, then go back to my parent’s house for Christmas Dinner on Christmas day. (This is about the typical arrangement every year with my family.)
Unfortunately, the weathermen had been predicting a huge blizzard to come on on Christmas Eve. As with all weather, there were varying degrees of how bad said storm would be, but in general, it was going to be bad.
Like “will strand you where you are” bad.
So, me, being the “preparer” in the family, packed a suitcase with clothes, diapers (my son was not potty-trained yet), and toiletries, just in case the weather came in around 6pm, like the weathermen said it would. I just knew we’d get stranded at my mother’s house, and she lives a good thirty minutes from mine, far enough away that I wouldn’t want to drive it in a blizzard.
When my husband came home from work, he was adamant that we were NOT going to spend the night. It would ruin our family traditional Christmas morning, and I was told that I’d better not pack that suitcase, because we weren’t going to need it.
Oh how incorrect he was.
Now I don’t know what kind of weather reports he’d been hearing, but he was certain we’d be able to come home. I played along, but I had been watching the weather for hours–it was coming up strong from the south, and would be upon us any time. My husband kept saying we weren’t going to get anything.
Sure enough, as we all drove down to my mother’s house, it started to snow.
We arrive, to find my aunt and uncle from Texas there. They were about six and a half hours away, and had left very early that morning, and only just arrived when we got there. It took them approximately ten hours to get in, due to having to drive through this storm that was about to bombard us.
And I knew my brother was coming up the same route.
So tension was high in the house.
And then came the phone call.
It was my brother.
He’d left mid-morning to come up, and they were stuck approximately 140 miles away, the highways had been closed due to the blizzard conditions and multiple accidents.
Fortunately, they were safe. They’d gotten off the highway and found a hotel. My brother had lived in this area for a while, so he knew where all the hotels were. They weren’t going to be able to make it up that night. They’d have to drive in on Christmas day.
So we proceeded to unwrap presents, setting aside all the ones for my brother, his wife, and his little girl, though it wasn’t the most joyous of holiday evenings.
Especially when my husband came to me, after, and shook his head, saying that there’s no way we could drive, the snow was coming down too hard. I didn’t say anything, I just smiled and nodded, and told him we’d make it work out. I told him to go have a beer and relax.
And then I found my mom, who was crying.
“Mom, what’s the matter?”
“I’m so mad at your brother! If he would have gotten out of town earlier, he’d be here. And now he’s stuck in a hotel, on Christmas Eve! How horrible is that?” Tears slid over her cheeks. I don’t think she was that mad at him, as much as she was upset about the circumstances.
Because my mom is, whether she’ll admit it or not, a stout believer in the family being together on the holidays.
“Mom, he’s okay. He’s not freezing on the road. He’s not in a hospital. He’s not in a ditch, or in a body bag. He’s safe, warm, and in a hotel.”
“But on Christmas Eve!”
I shrugged. “Yeah, it wouldn’t be my favorite place to be on Christmas Eve, but Mom, he’s safe. His family is safe. They’re warm and dry. Heck, their little girl is probably playing in the hotel’s indoor pool. They’re fine.”
Mom smirked. “I know. I know.”
I put my hand on her shoulder. “I know you’re disappointed. But they’ll be here tomorrow. And they’ll be fine, you’ll see.”
And they were. They rolled in about two, if I remember correctly. The drive, which in normal conditions should have taken them an hour and a half wound up taking four, due to driving at about thirty-five miles per hour for most of it. But they were in good spirits.
We all were. Honestly, it couldn’t have worked out better, because had my brother and his wife been there, my family wouldn’t have had a place to sleep at my parent’s house (other than the floor somewhere) that night.
My husband was disappointed that we weren’t home in the morning for the kids to open presents, but we did manage to sneak home and make sure that Santa had showed up and left presents for the kids, so when we did get home, the kids were extra surprised.
That’s the funny thing about Christmas–it does work out, as long as you have faith. May not be the way you want it to, but it does. And you’ll see, when you look back on it, that it worked out better than you could have realized at the time.
Mission of Christmas has plenty of twists and turns in the holiday season, but like my own faith, the Christmas Spirit doesn’t fail the ones who believe. Available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the Samhain website.