The Christmas Eve Snowstorm

Source of photo: auto publishers

It was a very stormy Christmas Eve back in 1970 and Dad had finished work at six o’clock. I was eight years old; going on nine; my sister would have just turned seven. Back in those days, the family always met at my grandparents’ house on the other side of the province. It was normally a two-and-a-half-hour trip. Because Dad had had to work right up until the very last minute, Mom had everything ready to go. As soon as he arrived home from work, Dad gobbled up a sandwich as Mom hurried me and my sister into the back seat, already dressed in our jammies.

Because of the storm, Dad decided to take the long way around the province – there were more houses and the roads were better – but our trip to the nearest big city was nonetheless laborious. I do not recall the make of the car that we drove (I know it was a Ford), but Dad told us years later that it was a hardy vehicle: for many miles, he was literally ploughing a path through the snow that night. No one else was crazy enough to be out in what was now quite obviously a blizzard, on Christmas Eve.

At one point, the car broke down completely, and Dad set out in the snow to knock on the door of the nearest country house, leaving Mom, my sister and me waiting in the car. I suspect the wait was interminable for my mother, but everything happened very quickly for me. I recall that all of a sudden, a kind man was lifting me out of the back seat and carrying me through the snowstorm to his warm house. I am sure that we must have stayed there for quite a while – I have no idea who fixed the car but it would have taken a bit of time. This lovely family took us all in – on Christmas Eve, no less – and kept us warm. The one detail that I recall with perfect clarity was that they owned a little general country store. When the car was fixed and it was time for us to go, I tearfully reminded them that they had promised my sister and me a goodie from the store (and I am willing to bet, on Christmas Eve, that they had already provided us with any number of goodies). My parents were embarrassed, but the man and woman laughed and took us both by the hand and into the little store so we could both make our choice. As I recall, I asked for a box of Smarties. Goodies clutched in our hands, my sister and I were carried back to the car so we could once again set out into the storm.

It must have been a terrible, white-knuckle trip for both my parents, but my memory is one of absolute comfort and safety in the back seat of that car. My sister was always asleep almost as soon as the car left the driveway, but I usually stayed awake, looking out the windows (no seatbelts to hinder me from being on my knees, looking out of the big Ford’s windows, back in those days!). The whole thing was a wonderful adventure for me.

We were getting close to the city when Dad stopped the car again. Somehow, in all that howling snow, he had spotted two young hitchhikers, waiting on the opposite side of the very lonely country road we were on, heading out of town, in the direction that we had just come from. As empty as the roads were of cars, they must have been waiting for some time. Dad beckoned them over. They trudged through the snow to our car and, voices raised to be heard over the howling wind, told Dad that they were university students, having just finished their exams and heading home for the Christmas holidays. Dad told them firmly that they wouldn’t be going anywhere further on this particular night, and talked them both into getting into the car so he could take them back to their university residence.

It must have been a tight fit, but they both managed to get themselves, their packsacks and their presents into the back seat with me (my sister now sitting on Mom’s lap in the front seat). They were cold and very wet, but I just remember being happy that they, like me and my sister, were safe in Dad’s care. No harm would come to these young men on this night, and although their families might be disappointed that they would not be home for Christmas Day, I knew that they would be happier still that their boys were safe.

I must have fallen fast asleep against one of those damp young men at that point, because the next thing I remember was checking into a very empty hotel in the city. The young men were gone, dropped off at their university dorms for the night. A kind lady gave us access to the now-closed kitchen, and we had a late-night snack in our room before getting into bed. I remember that the lady apologised; there was bread, meat and cheese and that was about it – but it felt like a feast to me. Even at eight years old, I knew that restaurants didn’t just allow a person walk into their kitchen and make themselves a sandwich. I understood we had been granted a rare and special privilege.

Dad was crestfallen. “I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to Nano and Gramps’ house for Christmas Eve, girls. I really did my best.”

I was utterly astounded. “What do you mean, Dad?” I exclaimed. “We got to have an adventure!!! We got rescued and we even got to rescue two people ourselves! You saved them Dad! This has been the best Christmas EVER!”. I still recall the look of surprised wonder on Dad’s face as he finally saw that awful evening from my perspective. We all went to bed warm, happy and safe; and woke, Christmas Day, to a brilliant blue sky; the snow blindingly white in the bright morning sunshine.

My one apprehension, was, of course, if Santa had missed us. There were no presents in our hotel room that morning and I worried that Santa wouldn’t have known to leave us our presents at my grandparents’ house, if we weren’t even there. When I worriedly brought this up, Dad answered, “Oh, Santa’s pretty smart. I’m sure he figured the whole thing out.”

We bundled ourselves back into the car for the final leg of our journey. It one of those incomparably beautiful, sunny days after a snowstorm where the whole world just sparkles. At some point along the way, one of my uncles met us halfway and my sister and I happily tumbled into the car to do the rest of the trip with him. When we arrived at my grandparents’, we were greeted with loving hugs and kisses all around. I didn’t even notice that Mom and Dad had arrived at my grandparents’ house just a wee bit before we did – and I didn’t notice the hurried scramble of packages being taken into the house. As soon as the greetings were over and it was polite for me to do so, I ran for the Christmas tree in my grandparents’ living room. Sure enough, the dollies that my sister and I had asked Santa for were sitting under the tree, just as Santa had obviously left them.

I glow every time I remember this story. There was just so much love and compassion and wonder in that night. So many people mentoring so many good and true values.

It is my favourite childhood story…

Patti Moore Wilson/©




Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

18 thoughts on “The Christmas Eve Snowstorm”

  1. It’s a wonderful Christmas story, Patti. As you said, the abundance of generosity of spirit is woven throughout. I was briefly puzzled why your uncle drove to meet you. The logistics were amazing–especially in the absence of cell phones!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your memory, a story about kindness!!.. hopefully the world will follow the example in the new year… 🙂

    Hope you and your family have a wonderful New Year filled with peace, love, happiness and life is all that you wish for it to be and until we meet again… 🙂

    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

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