Snow and the Spirit of Christmas
First off, let me explain. I dislike cold weather. In fact, I can honestly say that I hate it! While some people believe it is easier to warm a body than cool it off, I have to disagree. I can lie on a bed mattress covered in flannel sheets, wearing long underwear, under both an electric blanket and comforter, and still be cold. If it’s hot, a quick shower will cool me in an instant!
Luckily, I live in Texas, where it doesn’t get all that cold. At least, most of the year it doesn’t. In December, the temperatures begin to drop into the 30s, and may stay there until March. We might even get an inch or so of snow. Usually, though, we get quite a fluctuation in temperatures, so I don’t have to hibernate all that long.
In December 2012, it snowed on the 10th day of the month. It resulted in a light dusting on the lawn, and lasted only for the day. I admit that it was pretty, but was glad that it had disappeared by the next day. I do enjoy the quietness that comes with a blanket of fresh snow, but again, it’s cold out.
This leads me to Christmas Day, 2012
All holidays, including Christmas, are important to my family. It is the time we get together to catch up on current life events, eat delicious food, and reminisce. It doesn’t matter how far away we live, we will be there. The only way to have an “approved absence” is to be on our deathbeds.
My husband passed away in 2010, and my Mother suffered a stroke in early 2012. While I was having a hard time dealing with both, I was looking forward to spending Christmas at my parent’s. My parents, brother, sister, niece, nephew, step-son and grandson would be there. We’d enjoy a nice lunch and talk for awhile, then exchange gifts. I have never cared much about receiving gifts, but I do enjoy giving them.
On Christmas morning, I awoke early and loaded up my pickup with gifts. Before leaving the house, I checked the weather report once more. There was a slight chance of snow in the afternoon. If I hurried through the meal and gift giving, I’d be home before the roads got bad.
My parents live 69 miles from me, and it takes about 90 minutes to get to their house. I grabbed my purse and coat, warmed up my truck, and headed down the road. The sky was a bit on the gray side, and the wind was blowing, but inside my truck, I was toasty warm!
About 35 miles into my trip, my pickup began overheating. The gauge went into the red zone, and steam began pouring out from under my hood. I took the next exit, and there was a convenience store / gas station on the other side of the highway. I was amazed that it was open on Christmas Day!
I parked next to the store, turned the engine off, then called my parents. My dad answered the phone with a cheery “Merry Christmas!”, but his voice changed to a disappointed tone when I explained what had occurred. He told me to call the American Automobile Association (AAA) to have the truck towed to their house.
This was not a good idea, as I explained to him. Yes, I could get towed to their house, but how would I get back home? I have farm animals to take care of, and with the potential for snow, I need to be available to take care of them. He reluctantly agreed, told me they would miss me, and asked me to call him back with updates.
After hanging up with my dad, I entered the store. At this point, I was about to freeze to death! I called AAA, and they agreed to dispatch a tow truck. However, since it was Christmas, and there was not a truck available in my area, it would be a 2-3 hour wait for a truck to come from a neighboring city.
This gave me plenty of time to get to know the store clerk. She was a young lady in her late 20s who, along with her husband and 2 small children, had moved to Texas several months prior to take care of ailing parents. Her husband had been out of work for about 6 weeks, so she had taken this job to support her family.
I asked her if it bothered her to work on Christmas day, and was surprised by her answer. “Of course not! I have been blessed with a loving family, a roof over my head, and a steady job.” She went on to explain how the store was short-handed, and there was no one else to work that day. She was pulling 2 shifts, and was happy to do so. “If I didn’t work today, the store would be closed.”
I was the one who was blessed. If not for her willingness to work, I’d be freezing outside in my truck, waiting for a tow.
After about two hours, the clouds opened up, and the snow began to fall. The temperature had dropped below 32 degrees, so the snow began sticking to the roads. Now I had to face another fear: driving on ice. I know that I am not a good driver when it comes to ice. I certainly hoped the tow driver was!
At last, the truck arrived, and my pickup was loaded for the trip home. I hopped into the cab with the driver, who introduced himself as “Steve”. I asked him if he knew where he was taking me, and he replied that he knew the general area. I gave him directions, and we began the slow trek home on the icy highway.
The snow was falling heavily, and we couldn’t see far outside the windshield. I was a bit nervous, so I began asking Steve questions. He told me that he was 22 years old, single, and had two roommates. Both of his roommates were spending Christmas with their families, so he was going to be alone that day. Although he wasn’t scheduled to work, he volunteered so others could be off.
I asked him how he liked his job, and he said it was great. He got to help people in their time of need, and it paid pretty well. He was working his way through college, and his employers scheduled him around his school schedule. He wasn’t a partier, like his roommates. Instead, it was important for him to earn a degree so he could one day provide for a family.
The last 10 miles of the trip were fairly treacherous. It is a winding, 2-lane country road with a lot of hills. While it was a bit slippery, I realized I wasn’t as nervous as before. Steve was a competent driver, so I was able to relax and enjoy the scenery. It was almost magical at how quiet it was. Snow blanketed everything, and it seemed so pure and clean. (I learned later that we received 4 inches!)
Give and You Shall Receive
We arrived home safely, and Steve hopped out of the cab to unload my pickup. He had gloves, but no coat! When I asked if he was cold, he replied that he had given his coat to a needy person at his church, and hadn’t had time to purchase another. So while he proceeded to unchain my truck, I ran into the house.
Opening the closet, I found one of my late husband’s coats. I had been hesitant to give away anything that belonged to him. However, I knew that this was the time to do so. Steve had helped me, and it was time to return the favor. Steve put on the coat, finished unloading my truck, then wished me a Merry Christmas. As he began to remove the jacket, I told him it was a gift. I handed him a $25.00 tip, and sent him on his way.
My Christmas didn’t turn out the way I expected. I did miss spending time with my family. Time is so short with the ones you love.
But as I looked out my window, watching Steve drive away in the snow, I was reminded what this holiday is all about. It’s the spirit of giving, of sacrifice and rebirth. And a little snow, or cold, doesn’t hurt!
© 2014 Country Sunshine