The Christmas of the big snow! Who can forget it? Presents and turkey took a back seat that year of 1967.
We board the Santa Fe’s Texas Chief in Chicago and wake the next morning in Kansas. A world in dazzling white greets us. As we leave the train we exclaim, “Where is Grandaddy? He always meets us.” We find a phone in the station. Grandaddy’s car stuck in the snow meant several hours of waiting at the Osage Hotel. A taxi takes us into town and we mostly squirm and look at our watches.
Grandaddy’s neighbor finally manages to plow his driveway and we are rescued from boredom. The translucent landscape beckons as we drive the three miles east of town to the grandparent’s hilly pastureland. The kids Ben, thirteen (now sixty-three), Tim, eleven (now sixty-one) and Mary four (now fifty-four) can’t wait to venture out into that white, fluffy wonderland.
Snowdrifts high enough to climb up and slide down greeted us outside the back door. No one wanted to stay in the house any longer than it took to warm up and dry off. A cup of hot chocolate served as adequate fuel to keep the fun going.
Snowy footprints track inside and outside the house. Humps of snow move and reveal kids propelling themselves through one snow bank to another.
The boys rotated every hat, glove, jacket and boot that could be found from snowdrift to dryer. All the warm clothes in the house were shared with first one person than another. Only Mary, in her yellow snowsuit and her small cousins were limited to their own clothes.
Tim wore his grandma’s long red knit stocking cap for a while. At one time, Aunt Pam’s head bobbed in the drifts showing that red knit. When all the stocking caps needed drying, hooded sweatshirts furnished some warmth. Snow tunnels, forts and snowmen appeared in and between drifts. The children even let their grandmother borrow her own jacket and hat to come out to visit the snow fort.
To ward off the cold, Aunt Pam tied a scarf across her face so only her eyes showed. Too much restraint for the boys, they were busy digging, building and sliding. They appeared as moving snowmen as every inch of clothing became caked with snow.
The snow down the hill to the ravine offered a fresh canvas for snow angels. More rolling, romping and sliding finally left everyone exhausted. It became time to sit in front of the fireplace and gaze wistfully at grandmother’s Christmas tree with its pile of presents underneath.
It became time to ponder Christmas beyond the snow. We carefully placed the nativity figures in the stable on Mommommy’s mantle. Questions fly around the room, “Who has baby Jesus?” “Where does the camel go?” “Why isn’t there any snow?” Finally, we get all of the figures in place and talk about that moment in history when God made himself known in the birth of a baby. This baby, was born with no past baggage and unlimited future possibilities. It is important for us to celebrate Christmas by saying that life with God is good. As a family, we look at this family on the mantle and feel that timeless moment when we are connected. We are claimed as God’s family and valued as much as that lone babe in the manger.