Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Christmas I'll Never Forget

A couple of weeks ago, after a successful blog hop about Christmas ornaments, I suggested a blog hop about the "Christmas I'll Never Forget."  One of the bloggers thought it would be okay, but "not everyone has a Christmas miracle story."  This is not a Christmas miracle story. This is not "It's a Wonderful Life." It is a mixture of "Christmas Vacation" and "Christmas Story." 

December 1983 was a horribly cold and miserable month. The week of December 18-24 was the coldest ever seen in the month of December. We had lots of snow already and the temperature never rose above zero. The average was -16 degrees F and windchill ranged from -50 to -70 degrees F. 

I had graduated from college that spring and was gainfully unemployed and living at my parents. On Christmas Eve day, my brother and his family (well, wife and 2-year old daughter) arrived in the afternoon. My mom was working that day at the Roadrunner - a 24/7 roadside gas station she co-managed. The station was just on the outskirts of town, right off I90. 
My brother and I were driving out to pick her up and because of the slick roads and my brother's lack of fear of said road conditions, we ended up in the ditch. The windchill was dangerous and even a couple of minutes exposure could mean frostbite. Fortunately, another car came by, picked us up and took us back home. 

Opening the door to go back into the house, the metal handle of the storm door snapped off in my hand. 

I insisted on driving for the second attempt to pick-up Mom. As I was backing out of the garage, I noticed that there was a small drift of snow in the driveway, so I started to steer the car to avoid it. Unfortunately, the front end of the car was still in the garage. In my parents' new garage. The side of the car hit the garage door mental track and bent it.  
If you believe that everything happens in threes, you are going to have to continue counting. 

The car was drivable and while I was a bit upset about the whole garage thing, I was determined to still drive out to the Roadrunner. Mom was waiting for us and ready to go home. Yes, it was a 24/7 station, but it would close Christmas Eve at 5 and re-open the following morning, so Mom had to lock the place up. Which she did. When she tried to remove the key, it was frozen in the lock. As we pulled on the key to get it out, it broke. Half of the key was left frozen in the lock. At least the place was locked. 

When we finally delivered Mom home safe and sound, my sister and her hubby and two-year old son and 6-month old baby girl were now there. We had our Christmas dinner and when my sister started to mix the baby's formula, the can of formula was bad with what looked like grubs in the mixture. Since the two-year old had an allergic reaction to milk, we didn't trust just giving her regular milk.  It's Christmas Eve, there's a -70 degree windchill factor outside and there is no place open to buy formula and it's not like you can just walk over to the neighbors to borrow a cup. 

I don't remember how we solved the formula issue. But I do remember the decision I made that week. A friend of mine was going to attend graduate school at Rice University in Houston the next year and she thought I should go with her. One year later - January 1985 - I said goodbye to snow and windchill factors and I moved to Houston, Texas, bragging to my friends how I would never have to deal with those concepts ever again. 

It was my second day in Houston when the weatherman announced that snow was on its way and because of the cold temps, he warned Houstonians about the possible windchill and explained what it was. As I pounded my head on the table, they announced that the schools would be closed the next day because of the chance of snow.

1 comment:

Laura Fiskin said...

Was this in Minnesota? I know you live there now but wasn't sure if you grew up there. I ask because we lived in Minnesota my freshman year of high school (1983-84) and I can remember conditions just like these. I remember having a horrible sinus infection over Christmas and the minute I would step outside every body secretion (yuk, sorry TMI) including tears would freeze immediately on my face. We moved to Texas the next year and I thought I had put those days behind me. I guess God had other plans since I now call North Dakota home. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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