The Year We Stole Christmas
Maybe I’m a grinch. My dad hated holidays. It was a struggle for him to be around the family during the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I sometimes wonder if I’m destined to become him. I may have gotten started on that last week at Christmas. Utah has been suffering through a multi-year drought. As a desert state, we love water, rain and snow. We talk about it. We obsess over it. We pray for it. And on Christmas Eve our prayers were answered.
We woke up Christmas morning to eighteen inches of the best snow on earth. Unfortunately it was all piled on my driveway, and steps, and sidewalks, and pushed into piles on the streets because there was no place else for the snow plowsto pile it. And that was a problem.
Boys! Boys, wake up.
Dad, you said we could open our stockings at 7:30. It’s not even 7:00 yet.
Yeah, well you can open your stockings after your shovel the driveway. You’re sister needs somewhere to park.
And so, Christmas morning, before the sun lightened the snow clouds over the Wasatch Mountains, I was out with my sons, and one of my daughters moving mountains of snow.
Our house sits at the intersection of three streets. I have a street to the north, one to the west and another to the south. That’s a lot of sidewalks. There are sixteen steps leading up to my front door. That’s a lot of stairs to clear. Shoveling my driveway is actually the quickest task of the three.
My kids are used to the routine. They don’t even complain much any more. They know the sooner the walks, stairs and driveway gets shoveled, the sooner they can get on with the rest of their plans. In fact, they really hope that I don’t decide they need to help shovel some neighbor’s driveway. Eighteen inches? On Christmas morning? No, I’m not that big of a grinch.
The snow was powdery and while there was a lot of it, they quickly had our steps, sidewalk and driveway clear of the worst of it.
As the kids stacked their shovels and headed in to see what goodies Santa’s helpers had left in their Christmas stockings, I looked up the street. An older couple live at the end of our cul-de-sac. He’s in his eighties. And a few years ago he slipped and fell while shoveling his driveway. Throwing my shovel over my shoulder I carefully made my way up the hill.
I met my neighbor’s son and son in law who were busy clearing his driveway. The street was crowded with parked cars and the snowplows had done little more than plow a path down the center of the street. I helped my neighbor’s family clear a path to the street. We shoveled the sloped driveway starting at the top because we ended up sliding down to the street as we went.
As we were finishing the driveway, several middle aged men came streaming out of the house next door. They had more men than shovels.
I live just down the block and can grab a couple of extra.
Sure. Thanks for the help.
As we started moving the mountains of snow to clear a path to the street each of my fellow human snowplows introduced themselves and explained their relationship to my neighbor.
Where y’all from?
Really? Not much snow there?
No. In fact this is the first time I’ve ever shoveled snow.
As we finished clearing a path, we noticed another neighbor down past my house was now out clearing his driveway. Like a parka clad street sweeper gang, we wandered from house to house. Strangers became friends. Neighbor’s ventured out to share a task we all faced. The sun was well up now, but hidden behind a think layer of clouds that were threatening to drop more snow on our freshly cleared driveways.
Finally, we each headed back toward our own homes and waiting Christmas presents and family gatherings. The temperature hovered in the 20s. Not bad when we were moving, but I could feel the cold on my face and seeping through the soles of my feet. I bid goodbye to my new friends.
The snow finally started to fall gently, as it would all week. I laughed as I thought of all the people dreaming of a white Christmas; not just in California and Florida, but New York, Chicago and Milwaukee. Temperatures in the mid-west and east coast was in the 60s and 70s.
I smiled again at the idea of the Grinch. The Grinch that stole Christmas.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
(c) 2015 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved