My favorite Christmas memory started out like any other Christmas with excitement and anticipation, I could not wait to go home. Home for me is a ranch in western Montana; I often tell people when they ask where I grew up, that I am a real live Avon lady. I grew up in the small ranching community on a ranch nestled in a valley, at the base of Luke Mountain.
It was a time when we had ‘big time’ winters in Montana; winters where the snow was plowed so deep it often blocked the view from our car windows. It was one of those winters, it was Christmas Eve, and I was 3 months pregnant with my son Ross. My husband Alvin and I were going to tell the family on Christmas day, I could not wait, I was so excited.
The ranch is a mile and a half off the main highway and the road sometimes blew shut. I called the ranch to see how the road was as the last couple of days it had been snowing and drifting. They told us not to drive up the road and they (my brothers and sisters) would come meet us with a team and sleigh after they had finished feeding the cows. The county road had not been plowed yet.
I could hear the bells as they approached, it was early afternoon my brothers and sisters Jim, Joyce, Joe and Kathy came to greet us on a sleigh pulled by a team of horses adorned in ‘Jingle Bells.’ They had finished feeding and were in good spirits as they pulled up singing songs and laughing and joking. My brother John was also there but he was on a snowmobile. He helped us load some groceries and gifts and then made two gleeful laps around us and was off to the ranch to watch some football where my other sister Janet was cooking Christmas goodies.
The snow was glistening like a million tiny diamonds as we headed down the sunny path but that was about to change. When we reached the first corner in the road the sky started to turn angry. Storms can come over the western mountain in a hurry and surprised you, just as they did this day. The clouds turned black and rushed into the sunlit sky. By the time we were half way down the long stretch of road we were right in the middle of a full fledged blizzard.
Snow blowing, wind howling, can’t see in front of your face. The horses stopped pulling into the force of the storm, so Jim and Joe took turns leading them forward; the pull was hard into that wall of snow and wind. Packages blew away, we could not hear each other talk; we motioned to each other at one point wondering if we should turn the sleigh over and shield ourselves from the front. We pushed on in silent, making our way from one telephone pole to the next (they lined the road) as we edged our way down the road, praying and believing we would make it home.
Meanwhile back at the ranch Janet and John had no clue we were in trouble. The ranch as it nestled in the valley at the bottom of the mountain was protected from the storm and they were experiencing only snowfall. Besides, the game was on and they were not too worried about us thinking we out playing in the snow. But as time went by, it took over 2 ½ hours to go that mile, they started to wonder about us and John searched and found us at the top of the hill cheers went up, we were almost home.
We ended up being snowed in till the day after Christmas. It was awesome. We met my mom on the road the next day with the sleigh. She brought the turkey for dinner. It was a great Christmas.
Isn’t it wonderful, that certain memories of home and Christmas seem to stick with us forever? Never had home looked so good. The sound of everyone in the house, the smells of the holiday; fresh cut Christmas tree and fresh bake bread, or the sight of Christmas lights on the tree and the glow that shows through the windows just at dusk. It felt a like heaven; faith, family, friends, home.
- Blizzards Happen: Always be prepared
- Don’t Give Up: DoWIT, Whatever It Takes
- Tell Them You Love Them: You never know what tomorrow will bring
- Be Thankful: Always for blessings, faith, family, friends
- Have a very Merry Christmas