White Christmas? Bah, humbug!


Snow on railings before sunrise

We got our first measurable snow yesterday morning. Measurable—but not so much you had to get out a shovel. Actually a broom handled it just fine unless one wanted to wait until the sun came out to melt the white powdered sugar away.

Now if my Grandpa were still alive, he’d make a note of the date and write it on the calendar.

Then he’d tell me that’s how many measurable snows we’d have this winter. If his theory holds true, I can count on 17 measurable snowfalls this winter season.

Right now, that doesn’t sound awful but measurable can be what we experienced early this morning. Or it could be of blizzard quality.

My Alaska son had one of those last weekend. And that wasn’t the first they’d endured already this winter. Our east coast has already gotten a nasty blizzard just before Halloween. In my book that’s way too soon for such weather.

Now life should be like this White Christmas

But Christmas is next weekend. In this northern climate we often think of Christmas as being white, just as in the song White Christmas. Or the movie by the same name (one of my favorites) with a subplot about no snow which is badly hurting the Vermont ski lodge where a good portion of the movie takes place.

Of course, at the end on Christmas Eve, snow arrives and makes everything gloriously beautiful, white, and very romantic.

I remember another Christmas Eve which started out warm. While our family was celebrating at my sister’s home the temps dropped dramatically. Snow accumulated quickly. The winds whipped up off the lake. That usually means more snow—the heavy, wet variety.

This was one of our first Christmases dealing with our disabled son and his huge, very complex wheel chair. We hadn’t learned yet to be prepared for everything bad to happen, just in case. Power wheelchairs, deep snows, and high winds are a recipe for disaster. Our family learned that lesson that night.

So what happened you’re asking?

The Cousins

Well, my hubby was choir director and I was in the choir. Since we had a short choir practice before the Christmas concert and midnight Mass, we left my sister’s before the others. (We had a caregiver helping us with our son that night and his male cousins were very good at dealing with his wheelchair.) Practice went well, the concert was perfect. But the family never showed. Mass went on and then we headed back to my sister’s. (This is well before cell phones were generally available.)

That drive wasn’t easy and as we turned onto her street was saw our son’s modified van. In a ditch. An ambulance was visible along with tow trucks trying to extricate the van from the drifts and the ditch. My family members were busy trying to help as they could.

No one was hurt. Our disabled son was laughing about the whole situation. So were my nieces and nephews who were about the same age. My sister was consoling my mother who’d missed midnight Mass, my other sister was trying to calm her husband who was upset by the whole incident, and everyone was talking at once while my husband and I were trying to figure out what had happened.

And still the snow came down. And the winds roared. And I was beginning to HATE a white Christmas.

So what happened?

Here’s the scoop. When Stephen, his caregiver, and the rest of the family prepared to leave for church, they realized just how much the weather had deteriorated with all the white stuff. First task was get Stephen loaded into the van; however, his chair broke down when the controls got too wet when he barreled through a drift like he might have with the snowboard he used to use. Well, the chair quit. The cousins pushed the wheelchair (weighs about 250 pounds without him in it) back to the warmth and safety of the garage and then tried to get the van closer. Because the van didn’t have the high clearance for all the snow, it immediately swerved into the ditch.

Everyone went back into the house, scrapping Christmas Mass. Calls were made to a towing service. No one was working on Christmas Eve. The only way to get our son home was to call an ambulance with a gurney which they could lay him on and keep the ventilator functioning properly.

Slow driving on a Christmas Eve night

By the time we got there, the plans were in process. We all finally got home. And that was a hassle getting Stephen into our home without his wheelchair which still didn’t work. So with the cousins extra help, the paramedics got him downstairs and settled into his bed.

By that time our son was hypothermic because he can’t control his body temperature and had been in the cold too long. Thank God, the very competent nurse, a, little woman who weighed maybe 120 pounds and never could have gotten him home alone, knew exactly what to do to warm him up and get him settled in for a long winter’s nap.

No clatter of reindeer hooves or Santa’s sleigh woke him or us that night.

It was a Christmas to remember and to learn from. White Christmases are not always romantic or lovely.

In fact to this day, if we think snow is on the way, we change plans if it means taking our son out on Christmas.

But do I like snow on Christmas? Yeah, probably, as long as it’s gone in a few days.  What about you?

And to all, finally, a good night...

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12 Comments on “White Christmas? Bah, humbug!”


  1. Wow, what an experience but it sounds like your son had a great attitude about it, which says a lot about him. We don’t have to “deal” with weather here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I can’t imagine changing plans because of “weather”. A bunch of spoiled brats here in California!
    Have a wonderful holiday!


  2. Generally, Stephen keeps a pretty positive attitude. He saw the whole experience as a real kick–something different and out of the ordinary for Christmas.

    While me, being a mom at heart, worried about his health and someone getting hurt as we dealt with the situation.

    Thanks for stopping by. I wish we were heading to the Bay area after Christmas. Love it out there.

    Happy holidays since you are celebrating them all–at least in your posts. :-).

  3. Anne Parent Says:

    What a Christmas story! Thanks for sharing. Too often I think of the romance of the white powder and forget all the hassles that come with it. Growing up in the South, I still love this stuff, at least until March. Then, I’ve had enough. But, I certainly respect it. In the South, snow means ice, nasty ice attached, so I do appreciate all the dangers attached to the snow. Sometimes, we get too complacent in Wisconsin where we are used to having plows and the ability to move around in it. So, thanks for the reminder!


  4. Hi Anne,

    Snow can be wondrous, but treacherous also. I’ve always been happy to be driving in it up here instead of in the south where they don’t have the equipment to deal with it and most drivers aren’t used to winter driving conditions.

    It’s good to hear from you. Hope all is well with you and your family and you have a wonderful Christmas seasons and New Year.

  5. Elle J Rossi Says:

    Ahh, snow. My nemesis. Not a fan. My kids are pretty upset about the lack of white crap, um, I mean fluff, this year. I, on the other hand, have a more upbeat attitude than I’ve had in years during this season. I love your story and the message behind it. Stephen is an inspiration and I think, with his sense of humor, he and I would get along just fine.

    Like you, my plans tend to change when the roads turn bad. But I do cherish my big black truck for those times when I absolutely have to be out and about.

    Happy Holidays to all of you!


  6. Elle,

    Stephen would love you, really. Though he wouldn’t agree about the snow. Before his injury he loved extreme winter sports. Which is so ironic that he never hurt himself with those, but instead it was the extraction of wisdom teeth that initiated the events that caused his injury.

    As for me, I’m with you about the truck to handle snow. And I see you as thumbing your nose at the weather with really kickass boots.

    Happy holidays.

  7. Edie Ramer Says:

    I’m glad it all turned out well in the end, but what a scare. And your son has a great attitude!

    My sister and bil are coming in Christmas week. I hope the weather isn’t quite as bad this yar.


  8. Quite the ordeal–glad everyone was safe, especially Stephen.

    I always say, if it’s gotta be cold, might as well have snow with it. I’m WI born and raised, so while I respect it, I don’t let it scare me. Slow and easy–not like the idiots who think they’re God in their 4 whl drive trucks.

    If I get to stay home writing on my computer, or reading a book with a cup of tea or hot chocolate, even better!

    Be safe this winter! And while I want a white Christmas, I hope the weather is nice for whatever you have planned. 🙂 Love ya!

  9. Casey Says:

    Edie,

    Isn’t it funny how things we don’t think too much about at the time other than the hassle, make for memories we return to? Even with that scary night, I remember it every Christmas Eve, probably because everything did turn out okay and our whole family hung together to make things work.

    Enjoy your family and your holiday.

  10. Casey Says:

    Stacey,

    Same here–WI born and bred. I know how to drive in snow and respect it. Do do my family members. However, others as you say, who knows?

    We will be home alone and celebrating quietly this holiday. Different but pleasant. Maybe I’ll even get some writing done. 🙂

    I hope you and we have a white Christmas without a blizzard though. 🙂

    Enjoy the holidays. Love you, too.

  11. carol gianforte Says:

    very thought-provoking…giving us a chance to be more empathic about so many situations at Christmas. You are being God’s angels in your son’s care…


  12. Carol,

    So glad you stopped by and offered your thoughts. If you are now in the SW, I’m wondering if your Christmas will be white what with the blizzards that happened yesterday.


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