Christmas on the plains
December 26, 2006
The best Christmas I can remember is the one I didn’t believe was going to be at first. It was snowing hard out here on the Plains that year. Six to 10-foot drifts wreaking havoc with the roads. I-70 was more closed than open between Limon and the Kansas border.
But my wife’s faith never wavered once that I could tell. We were planning to have Christmas at her mom’s place that year and, no matter what, that was simply going to be the way of it. She can be a very, determined woman at times, to say the least …
There were several times I tried to reason with her, suggesting we might want to make alternate plans just in case the roads became completely impassable. She just patted me on the cheek sweetly and told me things were going to be fine ” that I would think of a way to get us there ” of this she was sure. Then she simply continued preparing things for the trip, which was only one day away. We were all supposed to meet on Christmas Eve day at her mom’s which was 12-and-a-half miles from our place and it was still snowing like there was no tomorrow. Her six sisters, two brothers and all their families were coming in as well ” most from even farther away than we were. But I really didn’t see how, considering the snow.
Even with a powerful 4×4 I still got stuck in the snow twice that week. I had to winch out once; the other time I had to dig out by hand. And this latest snow showed no signs of letting up any time soon. The woman was just going to have to listen to reason, that’s all there was to it. At least that’s what I was telling myself out in the barn as I fed the horses and other livestock. That’s when it hit me … literally. A small jingle bell came loose from the sleigh I put up in the rafters a couple of years ago and hit me right in the head.
Before passing a few years prior, my wife’s father, a retired railroad worker, made sleighs as a hobby. He made each of his children one, saying they were the best way to travel ” right after trains, of course. They were no little affair either. They resembled the one you see in that big Thanksgiving parade they hold back east every year.
I always thought it too big for any practical use ” the reason it was in the rafters in the first place. Then I remembered what he told me once.
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“Some day you’re going to be thankful to have it boy, and I want to make sure it keeps my daughter and grand-babies safe when you do need it.”
I thought I was simply humoring him by putting it up, safe. I had no idea I would actually need it, like he said. I just knew he was smiling down from heaven at being right one more time. I smiled back up and thanked him.
About that same time, the snow stopped, the sun came out, and my kids came running around the corner of the barn to ask if they could play in the snow. When I told them of my idea for getting to Grandma’s on the sleigh, play was forgotten and they all helped to get the sleigh ready. My wife wasn’t even the slightest bit surprised when we drove the team of horses leading the sleigh up in front of the house. She just looked at me knowingly and told me, “See, I knew you would figure out a way, Dear.” Then she began loading the sleigh for the trip.
When we took off early the next morning I was thinking I was so smart for figuring out how to get everyone and all we were bringing to Grandma’s for Christmas. But when we arrived at her house that Christmas Eve day, I got a little surprise of my own.
Four of the Sisters were already there with their husbands and kids, and one of the brothers with his family ” all of them having arrived on their sleighs! The rest were on their way with theirs.
I couldn’t help but be tickled by the connection their father obviously had with this Christmas. It was an old-fashioned Family Christmas, with not a vehicle in sight ” one I’m sure all of us will remember for many years to come. I know it was memorable for me. And that old sleigh is still out in the barn, well kept and maintained, just in case it’s ever needed again.