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AMEMORY OF CHRISTMAS PAST
“It’s time to get up!” With those words from Dad and a shake of my leg, this 8-year-old boy who hated getting up sat straight up in bed and threw off the covers. This was no ordinary morning! This was the day we left for Michigan and celebrated Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. It could very well have been 10 degrees above or maybe even 10 below zero outside, but the frigid South Dakota temperature dampened my excitement not one bit. With a last listen to the radio’s weather report, we we were on the road before the sun came up. and before school started at the end of August. Each year, Christmas was spent at home or with South Dakota relatives on Dad’s side of the family. This Christmas — oh boy! — we would be with all eight aunts and uncles and every cousin on Mom’s side of the family! I could barely contain myself. Being cooped up in the back seat of the car with my brother was not too high a price to pay for what lay ahead. Pictures in the family photo album guide my memories of that time. The Christmas tree had a lot of tinsel, along with a whole passel of cute little cousins posed around. I have no memory of the presents I received, but the experience of my extended family being together imprinted lifelong memories in my mind. The next time that many Connor aunts, uncles, and cousins were together was probably at Grandma’s memorial service 25 years later. What happened on the trip back home was pretty memorable as well. Long before the days of following storms in real-time using weather radar on cellphones, we were heading west on Interstate 80 into central Iowa. (They’re not called “freeways” in the Midwest. Call it “The 80,” and you will get all kinds of funny looks.) Suddenly, we ran into a heavy snowstorm— a bona fide blizzard. Monster snowflakes fell so heavily that the reflection of the headlights was blinding. Dad’s plan to drive through the night changed to getting straight to the nearest motel as soon as possible. Every other year, we would make the 900-mile trip in the summer, after the grain and alfalfa harvests were finished
As Dad followed truck tracks up the off-ramp, I remember hearing and feeling the bottom of the car drag in the snow. Another couple of inches and we would be stuck where we sat on the road! Street lights shined on snow so deep there were no streets and ditches. There was just a smooth white blanket over everything. It would’ve been so beautiful under other circumstances! Dad guessed the reflector posts correctly and took the driveway into the motel parking lot instead of burying us in the ditch. I don’t remember Mom saying too much then. She may have been too scared, or she was wise to know Dad needed to concentrate. This was just more excitement for me! Fun mixed with a little apprehension. But it was all okay, because Dad had everything under control. Newton, Iowa, gave us its last motel room, and we spent a safe and comfortable night there. The next morning broke bright blue and blinding as the sun made a brilliant crystal of the new snow. After a restaurant’s pancake breakfast — it doesn’t get much better than that — we proceeded on past semis and cars in the ditches and made our way over the remaining 400 uneventful miles home. For me, it was one of the greatest experiences of my short life. For Dad and Mom, they had all the stress and expense! Only as I grew older and became a parent myself could I truly gain an understanding and appreciation of what it took for my parents to provide me with such an experience. We long to relive the pure, unalloyed joy-filled moments of childhood. Life teaches that pleasure and stress, joy and pain, must usually be taken together. This Christmas, my prayer is that you experience God’s grace to redeem pain and experience more joy than stress.
Published by The Newsletter Pro • www.NewsletterPro.com
Published by The NewsletterPro • www.NewsletterPro.com
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