Opinion

Snow doing its best to put a damper on my holiday plans

It started off a joyful day as I awakened to an all white world.

I love that look, which is rare here – the sun (or moon) shining on the deep snow capturing the ice crystals within and shooting up thousands of little diamond-like sparkles.

More than that, though, I love the sense that you’re safe. You’re out in the snow, like my dog and I, to look, to play, to enjoy.

You’re warm, safe and secure, and a warm home awaits you.

For the dog and I, that’s how the morning went. We walked for an hour in the deep snow, crunching through a layer of ice that made the walk noisy and even more fun.

He would occasionally slide along the surface and at times place his nose along the ground, scooping up soft, fluffy snow, as if he were a tiny, furry, black snow plow.

After I got him back home, I headed out again, this time to a small church I located not far from my friend’s home, where we were holed up for the day.

I didn’t pay much attention to the denomination. It felt good to join people in worship.

Their stories were touching and the wine good.

I passed a large group of kids sledding. Their parents had blockaded a street and the kids used every available slick and flat vessel to propel themselves down two roller coaster hills.

Back in a warm house, I helped decorate a tree and made popcorn the old fashioned way – with a pan on the stove. I had forgotten how delightful it is to make popcorn that way, how exciting it is to watch the kernels heat up and explode.

I couldn’t help it, the whole process made me giggle and then laugh out loud. It reminded me of my mother making popcorn for my dad and me, as we sat next to each other on the couch watching “Have Gun Will Travel.”

I have no idea what that series was about really, only that watching it involved popcorn, warm pajamas and my dad.

This snowstorm brought out that same sense of security and safety. I loved joining the crowds as we prepared – gathering batteries, toilet paper, food to last several days and more.

I think that feeling of satisfaction and safety that preparing for a big event like this past snowstorm must arise from our hunter/gatherer background.

We get a secure feeling from hunting out our needs, gathering them up and stockpiling them back at home.

It was short-lived for us, though, we had to venture out and pick up a returning college-aged child from the airport. We took the slush covered roads slowly and arrived early to collect the kid, all of 20, who had spent the previous night on a floor in Chicago with “unaccompanied minors.”

“Twenty is not the best age to be,” he tells me.

Apparently, when all flights arriving into Seattle were cancelled on Saturday, adults or those over 21 were given vouchers (worth $70) for hotel rooms. Unaccompanied minors had to spend the time in a locked room in the airport.

“Chicago is cold,” he told me.

I suggested he ask for the equivalent in food vouchers, because I know the tall, thin kid well and he could, as he stated, “have eaten $70 in food.”

He was placed on stand-by with the other thousands of people awaiting flights to Seattle.

He was confirmed on a flight leaving three days later. He said he learned that you can get better service if you ask for the name of an attendant and “write it down in front of him or her.”

With this new strategy in place, he managed to get on a flight leaving late Sunday morning. His name was called for an earlier flight, but he was joined at the desk by a 17-year-old girl.

Once again, being 20 failed him, when the attendants decided it would be better to send the younger child home first. Nonetheless, we were grateful he managed to find his way on a different flight and that it landed safely.

Later that evening, my daughter called to say her flight from Houston into Seattle was canceled and they couldn’t confirm anything out of Houston into Seattle before Dec. 27.

She decided she didn’t want to be trapped in a Houston airport for Christmas and canceled her trip home.

So, the day that started on such a happy note with lots of laughter, ended on a sad note with tears.

I had so many plans for us, so many things I wanted to do with my daughter this Christmas.

If my disappointment were as deep as the snow, it would have some end, but like the snow, the tears took a long time to subside.

Alas, as always, it seems that crises like this snow storm force us to rely on and be grateful for the simple, yet enduring things.

My children, though, not all together, are safe.

We’re safe. We’re warm. We have heat. We can make cookies in the oven and popcorn on the stove. We can walk through the lovely snow enjoying how it looks on the trees.

Even if we couldn’t get out and retail sales are down, we’ll pull together this next year. We have a community of great generosity and good will, which affords me the chance to share an event that I hope you can make.

While I won’t have all my kids together, the one who is here will be helping out at the community fundraiser for Helpline – the Christmas Dinner for $1 at Moondogs Too on Christmas Day from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

It’ll include ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls and fun little chocolate and pumpkin tarts for dessert.

For more information, or to help call 895-2300.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Mary Colborn is a Port Orchard resident.

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