Just as Steve and I thought we drove without weather-related troubles from Denton to Abilene Two years previous, the 18-hour blizzard caused utter turmoil. Celebrating Christmas at my mom’s with most of immediate family was coming together.
My mom, agonizing over a house full (to the rafters) of acquisitions and artifacts gleaned from re-sale shops. garage sales and small-town antique malls, did not desire gifts this Yuletide. She had spent the previous year forcing herself to divest and disperse the inventory (yes, entering her house reminds one of a well stocked movie prop/costume warehouse.)
I was glad to oblige. I did make a Meyer Lemon Olive Oil cake to share with family during the holiday feast and after-glow.
Arriving at the alley-side carport, I headed to the backdoor with cake and cane – I now rely on a walking stick most of the time. Steve Peggy met us at the door, happy we made itwithout incident. (I call her Peggy as she is my blended family mom, not my biological mom) and found our way to the den past the same floor-to-ceiling stockpiles of stuff we had seen in October. Stuff in and above shelves, cabinets – stuff nailed to walls and spilling out of bedrooms converted to over-sized closets. Peggy’s project had obviously stalled.
“This is Christmas,” I thought. “Not the time to critique …” We relaxed around the dining room table, shoving boxes, papers, newspapers,and pens just enough to make space for a plate of barbecue and the usual Christmas goodies.
Offering to help her with an initial purging of her treasures, Peggy let us in on the level of her distress.
“I am the only one who can do it,” she said as she scanned over the clutter before us. “I want to make sure things get to the right family members and …” her words faded into silence.
So we sat with her, munching snacks and talking – the entryway grandfather clock chiming half-hour, hour – 10 p.m., 11 – and Peggy slowly went through a stack of paperwork that had grown in front of her for months.
Our presence was her Christmas present I realized.
When the clock chimed 1 a.m., Peggy had cleared the dining room table, and we straightened the room for the Christmas Day gathering planned for the next afternoon. (Although Peggy didn’t know she was hosting the clan until her daughter-in-law Carol called her just before we arrived. Surprise!)
“This has really helped,” she said with relief. “I just needed you to be here while I did it.”
Carol kept calling Robert – from Christmas Eve night through Christmas morning – to make sure he, Tammy and Major would be in by 3 p.m. She’s a great sister-in-law, but she has yet to admit coordinating family events – especially Christmas dinner – cannot be controlled despite multiple phone calls to Muleshoe when that area has been sideswiped by a snow storm (uh, blizzard).
Tammy had made it from hers and Robert’s place in Scottsdale, Arizona in to her mom’s place Muleshoe without much problem. The snow storm was just a gleam in the TV weather guy’s eye when she was on the road.
But Robert had to pick up his son, Major, in Cortez, Colorado. By the time the boys left for a circuitous drive to the small West Texas meeting place, cold, snowy clouds loomed large, then dropped white stuff – a lot of white stuff. East of Albuquerque, our stalwart Christmas travelers had to find one of the few rooms left at Moriarty Inn. I know Robert would have plowed through the blizzard, but state troopers and the hotel association halted traffic until … well until they determined the roads could – or would – open.
I love my brother Robert, but he can be a curmudgeon – what am I saying? He is the curmudgeon. I’m sure he paced and fumed in that lovely motel room until he and Major – now a very tall and athletic 17 years old – succeeded in reaching Texas soil.
Amazingly Robert, Tammy and Major got to Peggy’s before 3. The family gathered and hugged and talked and ate, enjoying a few precious hours together, ending around the smal-but-festive tree. Sacks and packages were brought in from various vehicles, paper ripped, ribbons flew, as 12 people oohed and aah-ed over gifts and gimme’s.
Robert, Mr. Humbug himself, gave the most appreciated gifts (amazing). As an international commercial pilot for Air Southern, flying 747 cargo jets to China, Ethiopia, and who knows where, he had bought – for very little money – really great cashmere scarves, Ethiopian coffee – for us women-folk and just because he and Tammy live so close to Mexico, Cuban rum for Steve and brother David from across the border. Cool and way cool.
And the 2011 Christmas commute, whether from the snow banks of a wintry New Mexico, or the small town of Tuscola, ended happily.
Neither rain, snow, fog nor gloom of night can keep the Edwards-Lackey family from their appointed Christmas at the homeplace.