Home for Christmas…

A friend from high school posted the youtube video clip below on Facebook.  It reminded me of a post that I had written about coming home from college for Christmas in that very same 1963 snowstorm!   Thought I’d share the post here and give you a first hand look at what I was describing in the video below…

Home for Christmas

Originally published in My Southern Heart…the Stories on November 20, 2008.

The days on the calendar flew quickly by. Thanksgiving had come and gone, and I was looking forward to a nice long break at Christmas. I was tired and “run down”, to use one of Mama’s expressions, after a bout with strep throat and a high fever. I had even managed to spend a few days and nights as a patient at the infirmary where I worked. The Christmas break would give me a chance to rest and catch up on all the school work I’d fallen behind on…not to mention preparing for the finals the week after my return to school. Not the best way to spend Christmas vacation, but I was thankful for the time.

It snowed the day before we were to leave for Christmas break. A deep blanket of white covered the campus. Icicles hung from the chapel and other buildings and weighed heavily on the tree branches. Everything glistened in the bright sunlight. It was a winter wonderland in the deep South. No one had come prepared with boots but we still tromped in the snow, throwing snowballs at one another and basically acting thirteen again. It added to the excitement of going home.

I was riding home with Sandra, one of my friends from Memphis, who was also a freshman there. Her boyfriend Mike had come down to drive us back to Memphis. It seems there was someone else with us on the trip…but I can’t quite remember who it was. I gently remind myself that it has been forty-five years.

It continued to snow all that day, and the roads had turned into a solid sheet of ice. Driving was reported to be treacherous at best. Under normal circumstances, the trip took four hours. We left school about eleven o’clock in the morning right after our last class. It didn’t take long, or very many miles, to know we were not looking forward to this trip. Mike was a good driver but totally inexperienced driving in snow; and now the snow had been packed under a sheet of ice.

I remember vividly that, at first, there was talk and laughter among us on the trip…and then silence as we realized how dangerous it was. We must have only been traveling about 20 miles per hour, but more than once, we slipped and slid totally across the road and into what would have been oncoming traffic…had anyone else been there. We passed dozens of vehicles abandoned on the side of the road or, even worse, wrecked. There were very few stores open and we needed to stop for gas. We also needed to get some food and something warm to drink. Unfortunately, this was before cell phones so we had no way to call our parents or anyone if, indeed, we were to need help.

We finally found a store open and bought some sandwiches and hot chocolate. We also filled the tank with gas. I remember calling my dad collect at that point. He said to find some where to buy chains for the car and that he would pay for them along with the gas. Luckily, we did find a store open and managed to get chains to fit. A little while longer and we were back on the road. The chains did help some, but it was still rough going. Twelve hours after leaving school, we pulled up to my front door. We were all exhausted but glad to be home.

Since that long ago journey, I’ve lived in Illinois and Iowa where it snows a lot. I’ve driven in snowstorms and blizzards with white-out conditions. I’ve driven on sheets of ice.  Yet each time I do, I’m transported back in time to a car full of college kids trying their best to get home for Christmas…

 

Time traveling…

I’m amazed at how our senses can take us back to another time and another place…

The taste of a delicious, hot Southern biscuit reminds me of my Mama’s wonderful cooking. One bite of homemade banana pudding with the golden brown meringue, I close my eyes…forty six years pass…and I’m home again.

If I get even a slight whiff of the perfume “Windsong” by Prince Matchabelli or of the men’s cologne, “English Leather”, it’s 1966 all over again and I’m a young newlywed.

If I hear the song “Aldi-La”, it’s 1964 and I’m sitting in the coffee shop at Mississippi College (I think it was called “The Wigwam”) with my roommate, Linda, who had just broken up with her boyfriend and we are both in tears. If the old movie “A Man Called Peter” is playing on the classic movie channel, I think of a Saturday night in 1963 and a young man named Ross.

Sometimes our senses can even play tricks on us. Not long after my father passed away, I was shopping at the grocery store and saw an elderly gentleman who looked so much like my father, even down to the slight parkinsons tremor and the gait. I found myself closely following him for two or three aisles in the grocery store…it was almost like looking at my Daddy all over again. I managed to pull myself together long enough to park the shopping cart and left the store in tears.

Touch. What can I say? I’m a hugger. I come from a long line of huggers. The human spirit can only go so long without being touched…held…hugged. There have been dozens of studies on how many hugs a day a human needs. As a Registered Nurse, I spent many years taking care of patients and made sure I incorporated some form of touch besides the routine care…a pat on the back or arm…a reassuring hug. Perhaps this is also why the studies have attributed having a pet to a sense of well-being and an overall decrease in blood pressure.

Have you ever noticed how much we learn from our sense of touch? How many times have we seen something that we’d never seen before and our first response is to want to touch it. Ever notice the sign “Do Not Touch” in a museaum or exhibit?

I walk into a fabric store and my senses are overwhelmed with row after row of bolts of fabric…all different colors…patterns…textures. I’m also overwhelmed with memories of spending time growing up in the fabric store with my Mama. She was an excellent seamstress and made most of my clothes. We’d spend time together selecting a new pattern and find the fabric for it together. I did the same thing with my children…and, now, my daughter with hers. Mama had so many offers to sew for payment, but she reserved those talents for her family. She told me:  “I only sew for love”.  Years later, after I began the tedious work of sewing for my family, I understood and said the same thing to my family. Who knew that would come full circle as now I hear my daughter repeat the exact declaration as she works hard to sew for her family…

 

Originally published in My Southern Heart.  

I’m headed to the fabric store this morning for a super sale on patterns and it brought back memories of this past post.  Thought I’d share…

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