By Madison Frederick
HO! HO! HO! May all the warmth of the holiday season envelope you and your loved ones. There are countless feel-good, inspirational family stories that cheer us and warm our hearts during this time. One of my most vivid family Christmas memories deals with the lack of warmth … literally.
I live in the Appalachian Mountains and many folks do not realize how vicious our weather can get sometimes. Yes, we are known for our lovely Christmas trees, but we can also be remembered for
deep snow and icy, curvy roads. One of our Christmases past we were following our usual plan. My older son and his wife were coming for my Christmas Eve buffet and spending the night to be here with us on Christmas morning as well. (I am holding on to Christmas morning as long as I can! He is 30.) And my younger son was home from college and enjoying some “down time” visiting with high school friends.
There had been rumblings about a white Christmas, but we didn’t pay much attention. We were too busy with those last minute Christmas details. Thank goodness I did bake the Christmas morning casserole on Christmas Eve afternoon.
Well, you can guess what happened next. Snow started fulling, but first came the ice. The timing of the temperature dropping was perfect for laying down a good thick coating of ice on the trees and roads. Beautiful, you say? Bah, Humbug!!! We woke up on Christmas morning to no power of any type. Let me tell you folks, those beautiful gas logs are not much help in this situation. As soon as we all layered up with more clothes, we decided we HAD to have some coffee. So my brilliant younger son boiled some water on the gas grill we had on our deck. Then he poured the water through the coffee basket on the pot. Then he reheated the mixture and we had coffee! We took the egg casserole and wrapped it in foil and placed it on the grill as well. Presto! Breakfast.
This was good fur a while. But after presents were opened and we couldn’t use any of them, we were forced to play chess, work puzzles, and read. It was tough. No electronics. We became absorbed into these activities and were startled by what sounded like gunfire in the woods behind our house. “Out in the yard there arose such a clatter, we sprang from our puzzles to see what was the matter!” It was tree branches breaking from the weight of their ice coverings. It was a scary sound that just kept getting worse. We were getting colder by the hour and we didn’t want to face another night in the cold house. (We are located on the top of a mountain!).
So when noon came, we had a family conference and decided that we would try to make a run for it. We had no idea how bad the roads up to our house were, but just from what we could see outside we knew that absolutely nothing was moving. We began to execute our plan. We dressed, packed, took snacks and water, and began to venture out to the garage and driveway to prepare the vehicles. Fortunately, my younger son had a chainsaw in his truck. It was determined that he will be the lead vehicle because he may have to cut trees out of the roadway. My older son and wife fullowed next and then my husband and I brought up the rear once the road was clear.
Back to warmth, here is where we realize just how COLD it is. No, I didn’t say it was pretty … just like nothing I’ve ever seen.
The eerie sound of popping tree branches getting louder and more frequent was terrifying.
After hugs and warnings to be careful, we started out.
I had to close my eyes. I felt the slow grind of the SUV; I heard the unmistakable sound of the chainsaw roaring ahead, and I listened to my husband muttering to himself I asked my husband, “Is he okay?” I don’t know which was worse … my actual vision of the scary scene or the imagined vision of what could be happening when my eyes are closed. We must have looked like a modern-day Daniel Boone family.
We made it down and I breathed a sigh of relief as we voiced our thankfulness to one another. The plan was to travel on to Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house about an hour away, but in a tropical climate compared to where we’d been. But son No. 2 shocks us with this statement, “That was cool! I think I’m going to stay here and see how Claire’s road is.” What? I guess he needed another kind of warmth!
My best wishes for a very warm holiday season for you and yours.
Until next year!
A writer from North Carolina who started her career at the lifestyle magazine Bangle, Madison Frederick uses a pen name because she likes to write about personal amusing stories from her girlfriends. She is a semi-retired, happily married mother of grown children.