Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Well, hello there.

Since my last little note I've had three Christmases and one New Year's Day. Whew! Here's a little update on Christmas.

Christmas Eve
In which Andy and I make a wise decision and have a wonderful evening safe and warm.

Our plans to travel to West Texas were thwarted by crazy, unbelievable weather. As the snow started, Andy and I headed North rather than West, to closer parents and safer driving. We (barely) beat the snow and showed up early to my parents' house, where we celebrated Christmas with white stuff on the ground (the first time I can remember), canceled the second worship service (my dad's the pastor), and all snuggled and stayed warm.

Christmas Day
In which Andy and I embark on a trip, or "the Stupidest Thing I've Done in Years"

Andy and I got up and opened gifts. I got diamond earrings from him. He got a KU sweatshirt from me. (We value different things...)

We ate a good breakfast, accepted "sandwiches for the road" from my stepmother but declined many baked goods (since part of our plan was to imbibe baked goods that Andy's mother had made), loaded up the car, and headed toward the panhandle for another Christmas celebration with Andy's parents. The snow was melting in North Texas; the roads were clear; we were happily singing Christmas carols on the radio.

And then, suddenly, the snow was not melted. There was ice on the road. We were not singing anymore. We looked at each other with alarm. Was it possible that things were getting worse? Andy's parents had said that there hadn't been any snow in North Texas...

There hadn't been any snow in North Texas. But there had been on the way to North Texas. Read this, and note the line "Things got progressively worse." We were not driving in a blizzard, but we were driving on inches of ice. It was terrifying. Texas people are not used to driving on ice, and the roads hadn't been sanded or salted or whatever they do yet. There were cars stranded twenty feet down bridges, on the left and the right of the highway, and semi-trucks were turned on their sides beside the road, or stopped in the middle of the road. The last twenty miles into Wichita Falls took us at least an hour, and we were biting our nails the whole way. Then we arrived. It was worse. Have you been to Wichita Falls? The whole city is composed of bridges and overpasses.

We realized it would be getting dark soon, and that the roads were fast getting worse. We called a hotel that would take dogs on the way and made a reservation. Did I mention we had both dogs with us?

So we arrived in Wichita Falls (if by arrived, you mean skated in by sheer determination) and took our exit, but were unable to take the road to the hotel we had reservations at--it was covered in snow. We stayed on the service road, even though parts of the snow were taller than the middle of my low Ford Focus (good little car, staying on the road!) and slid into a snowdrift in another hotel parking lot. Andy went in. I sat in the car and contemplated various methods of having a nervous breakdown in the hotel lobby if they said they didn't allow dogs. (I imagined myself saying "you don't understand--I will throw myself on the ground right now and scream until the police come.") Andy came back. The hotel was full.

But we got directions to the other hotel. We got back on the highway. I tried not to whimper and cry, but I may not have succeeded. We scooted slowly past a semi that was stranded in the middle of the highway. We took our exit. We made it to the hotel. Andy leaped a snowdrift into the parking lot. (Seriously, one of the car's wheels were off the ground. It was our action movie moment.) And slid into a parking spot. And turned off the car.

We looked at each other. We were both shaking. The dogs looked enthusiastic. We checked into the hotel.

Our room was on the fourth floor. The elevators were out. Fearing repeat of last year, I practically crawled up the snowy, icy stairs, and Andy was the hero, making trip after trip downstairs to bring up luggage, dogs, and food. Food? Well, two sandwiches and three oranges and candy from our stockings.

So on the night of Christmas, Andy and I settled in together in a seedy little hotel room with both of our dogs. We watched Christmas movies on cable, updated our statuses on Facebook, and spaced out our food as best we could (should have taken those baked goods...). The dogs were caught cuddling together for the first time:

Day After Christmas
In which Andy and I turn back around.
The next day we got up early and noticed that the roads had been sanded. We danced with joy (or something like that) and had a small breakfast. There was a "continental breakfast" at the hotel, but it had been seriously depleted by two days of snow and hungry travelers. There were so many of us that you didn't want to take too much. So we each had a small bowl of cereal, some juice, and coffee. Then we walked carefully across the iced parking lot back to the hotel room.

On the way back to the hotel room, we noted the huge ramp to get back on the highway toward North Texas. It went straight up. We watched several cars make it up the ramp and sighed little hopeful sighs of relief.

After waiting for a semi to move out of the only parking lot exit, we loaded up the car, made it up the ramp, and braced ourselves for the trip back to my parents' house (we heard it was worse the farther toward the panhandle you went, so we gave up on Andy's parents). The first bit was harrowing, but things began to thaw. So much so that I stopped gripping my seat long enough to take a picture:

And we were able to stop at Dairy Queen for french fries, gravy, and a milk shake (all that snow, you know, makes you want a milk shake...).

And then we celebrated more Christmas. I gave Andy framed pen and ink drawings of the dogs (that I forgot to photograph) and he gave me

a whole set of mustache espresso mugs. Remember my entertainment with the first mug Andy gave me, the "mustache mug"? Well, now there are six. Life will never be the same. (As my friend Erin said, "Andy deserves some kind of award.") :)

And that was Christmas.


Marsha said...

Wow. That is an epic tale. I'd much rather drive on snow than on ice, myself. Though staying in and hunkering down is the best option overall. :)

LOVE the mustache cups!

lissarae said...

So mom asked how you were doing this morning. I was checking facebook at the time, so we headed over here to your blog.

And laughed at your wonderful Christmas stories! What great writing my dear. We have no interesting stories from Christmas- we were recluses at home. So we lived vicariously through you just now.