A Christmas I’ll not soon forget
We had our third (and final) Christmas of this season tonight. I’m actually kind of ready for it to be over, which I think is a first for me. Perhaps it’s because very little of the last few days have gone as planned.
First, we celebrated as a family on Dec. 20. It was a wild weekend to be sure…more than two feet (seriously!) of snow fell on Friday evening and all day Saturday. Have you ever wondered what would happen if more than two feet of snow was dumped on your city in just 24 hours? Well I can tell you that everything just stops. I knew we were leaving town on Monday, so I didn’t buy a bunch of groceries. Just a few things to get us by. What I didn’t account for was spending so much time without electricity. Oh, and water. See if you have a septic system, it needs electricity to pump the water. No electricity, no water. A fact that would have been helpful on, say, Friday morning when I was at the grocery store. The “real” plan for the weekend was as follows: Friday: watch baby J during the day, finish cleaning the house, meet J in town after work for dinner and shopping-he would take the kids shopping for me and I’d finish the other shopping. Saturday: pageant practice in the am, Little Bear’s birthday party in the afternoon, J’s parents arrive that night. Sunday: Pageant at church, celebrate Christmas with J’s parents after church, have our own Christmas Eve that night. Monday: celebrate Christmas as a family, fly out to TX to spend Christmas with my family.
The threat of the storm became real on Thursday evening. The predicted numbers were getting higher and higher. I finished wrapping all the gifts I had that night, but still needed a few key items to keep the Santa love alive. My mind was racing as I laid in bed that night of how I was going to get those presents purchased. I determined that I would have to call a friend to watch the kids for a little while so I could run out before the storm hit. I’ve helped her on plenty of occasions, I was sure it would work.
I woke on Friday morning with high hopes. Baby J was delivered as scheduled. Belle was dropped off at school. I called my friend. No answer. I waited a little bit and tried again. Her son told me she was at the elementary school, helping with a party. I waited a little while longer and left a message on her cell phone. I went to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials and feared I wouldn’t make it out without the kids. Around 1pm my friend returned my call. She was at the grocery store on the other side of the mountain. She had a party to attend that night and her son had a piano lesson at 4. We set our brains to work to figure out a way to pull it off. We resolved to have Belle ride the bus to her house. She knows the family well enough, but has never had a bus change like that during the day. I knew she’d freak out, but it was my only hope. My friend picked up the Littles around 2, and Baby J and I were off. I was actually quite amazed at what I accomplished in under 2 hours. I planned my route carefully, dashed in and out of stores, and was back to pick up the kids in record time. Of course, I wasn’t able to get my main gift for J. But I knew he hadn’t gotten me anything yet, so we agreed to just celebrate that part in TX. As we headed home from my friend’s house just minutes before 4pm, it began snowing.
It had been cold all week, and the snow was coming down heavily. Within an hour, the grass was white. Baby J’s mom crept home, cars turning 360’s in front of her. J, not realizing it was snowing already, didn’t leave work as early as he could have, choosing to check on a patient from earlier in the week. A nice gesture, sure, but one that would come to bite him in the butt. His car has never been good in the snow. How he got as close to home as he did, I do not know. In fact, he was about a mile and a half from the house when he couldn’t go any further. The road to our house in uphill nearly the whole way and the road was too slick to maneuver. I’d stepped out on the porch the measure the snow-4″ deep now at just before 7pm-when I heard J call my name. He’d had to leave his car on the side of the road and walked home. Actually, someone picked him up and gave him a ride. We immediately called the tow truck and were assured they would get right to it. We went to bed late that night, having been told the tower had to respond to state trooper call in town and we were next in line. She promised me we were next. He would call when he was on his way.
Saturday morning came, still no call from the tow truck guy. J called him and was told he was out all night towing. He would come get J’s car as soon as he dug out his truck. (Sidenote, if he was out towing until 6 am…how was his truck covered in snow at 8 am?) We were first on the list, once again. The snow kept falling, everything for that weekend was cancelled. No party. No pageant. No Christmas with J’s parents. We decided we’d have our Christmas Sunday morning to give us a full day to enjoy our presents. Around 9:40 am our electricity went off. I called in to report the outage with the electric company and set out to shovel the front walk. We had about 20″ at this point and it was still going strong. It was nearly 4pm before our electricity would be turned back on. J and I spent the day taking turns with the shovel-first the sidewalks, then the car, a path up the driveway, and a path on the deck to the grill. I thought we were going to have to cook dinner out there in the freezing cold. When the electricity came back on, we blasted the heat and filled some containers with water. It’s a good thing, too. We still had not heard any word on the car. Our phone lines were out, and it seemed the tow company’s were too.
We had a nice dinner of steak and potatoes. We followed our Christmas Eve traditions of unveiling the new nutcracker for our collection and new pajamas for the kids. Little Bear didn’t remember that tradition and was a bit disappointed with his gift. 🙂 We read some favorite Christmas books, and just before we finished “The Night Before Christmas” the electricity went out again. Knowing it would be a cold night, we put all three kids in Belle’s bed each in two layers of pajamas. J and I huddled in our bed in our warmest clothes, hoping to wake in the night too warm because the heat had returned. Alas, it was not to be so.
The kids woke around 7:30 on Sunday morning. The electricity was still off and it was 54 degrees in the hallway-certainly not the coldest part of the house. The house was colder than the basement! That’s really saying something, because we don’t heat the basement and it is quite frigid in the winter. We had our Christmas, which was a bit lackluster given that Rock Band isn’t all that exciting when you can’t actually play it! Some time after 9am the electricity returned. There was much rejoicing…and rocking…tainted with a bit of worry over J’s car and our upcoming trip to TX. We spent the day packing and playing, thankful for the warmth of our home.
Monday morning came without much fanfare. Still no phone. Still no car. A driveway full of ice. Our landlord had come by on Saturday and plowed the driveway with his tractor, but there was a still solid layer of ice over most of the driveway. I chipped way at the area right around the car, but there was simply no way I could do the whole drive. We decided to try to get the car to the top of the driveway. J got the car to move a few inches and immediately got stuck. Our chances of getting to the airport (in DC no less) were looking dismal. We’d heard the main highways were drivable-though they were still listed as severe-but that didn’t matter much if we couldn’t get out of the driveway.
To Be Continued…