Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Holly Jolly Christmas

A few days after Christmas, my 6-year-old nephew Daniel told his parents, "Well it wasn't really a holly jolly Christmas. It was a little bit holly jolly, but not very holly jolly." When asked why not, Daniel said that last Christmas we had snow.

Santa's response: "Your wish is my command, Daniel."

The day that we spent in the hospital out in east Portland with my dying aunt, the city experienced a freak snowstorm. My sister and I left the hospital around 3:15 p.m. and the snow began falling steadily. Traffic seemed to be clogging up, but we thought it was just the holiday rush, or that people were headed home early because of the snow. Nadine dropped me off at my house (our husbands had taken all the boys swimming at the community center), and headed to my parents' house. Our plan was to gather that evening at our house for soup and let my parents have some quiet time to themselves after a worrying day at the hospital. But the snow continued.

I spent much of the next 2 or 3 hours on and off the phone with Nadine, as we were worried about everyone's safe trips home. Our husbands were stuck at the community center. The parking lot was a zoo. David's first comment when they saw the snow was "I love driving in snow!" Famous last words. Their minivan really struggled to get up the hill and it took them 45 minutes to get home (it would typically take 10 to 15). But they made it. My family, in the meantime, had to abandon our car, because it wouldn't go up another hill. They nearly got in a wreck--people were slipping and sliding all over. Portland in a freak snowstorm. We are glaringly unprepared.

Mike decided to head off for home on foot (about 1.6 mile away) through the park, but the kids were extremely cold--they were not dressed for snow. They had coats, but no hats, gloves, or boots. Chris kept fretting about hypothermia. He went back to the center for awhile, and we kept consulting on the phone. I thought for sure it would stop soon and melt, and I was glued to the internet and our portable weather station to try to figure things out (alternating with being on the phone to my sister, debating our options--should we send David back out into the storm again to rescue them?). The meteorologists were no help at all...either saying that 1 inch had accumulated (actually, it was 3 inches) or saying that it would stop and warm up around 8:00 p.m. Well, it's a good thing they didn't wait for it to melt, because it didn't stop snowing and start melting until overnight.

My very clever husband had the bright idea to raid the lost and found closet at the center. He was able to patch together enough hats and mismatched gloves for all, and they trudged back out into the snow. Once better equipped, they actually enjoyed the walk and the beauty of the snowy silent wonderland. I had turkey rice soup and hot cocoa waiting for them. Mike carried Nick on his shoulders all the way home! Nick, though, was the coldest, because he wasn't moving...we bundled him up in his jammies and put him under the covers, and he promptly fell asleep at 6:30! The whole adventure had exhausted him.

In the meantime, my parents had left the hospital 15 minutes later, and it took them 3 HOURS to get home. Unfortunately, they had no cell phone with them (my mom had left it in their other car, which we had). Thankfully, she had borrowed a coat from me before we left, because she had forgotten one. They ended up having to park their car a few miles away from home and walk home.

Later on I heard about far worse horror stories than what we endured, such as one woman spending 6 hours in her car to drive home to Vancouver from Hillsboro! And another friend posted on Facebook about the importance of going to the bathroom before leaving one's workplace. Very true!

The snow was definitely beautiful--here's a view of our front yard and back yard:

As you might remember, I'm a snow scrooge. I like it as long as I don't have to go anywhere and it doesn't last too long. By the next day, it was melting...but it stuck around long enough for the kids to build a snow person. The kids' friends James and Leigh came over in the morning and helped them build a snow/leaf person (I understand that James did much of the work, actually!):

Nick was VERY sad when the last vestiges of it finally melted a few days later. And Daniel was very happy to have his HOLLY JOLLY Christmas.

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