We traveled to family Christmas events for six days in a row. That’s not unusual, but the blizzard we traveled through on Christmas Eve was. Oklahoma can be snowy, but it’s a dusting or a couple of inches. Just enough to play in.
We watched the TV on the 23rd, listening to the Winter Watch advisory, then a blizzard watch. We’re not equipped for blizzards. Our towns and cities don’t have the trucks and plows to deal with a blizzard.
I was concerned for a couple of reasons. Primarily, my children were traveling, working their way toward us. My niece and her husband were also on the road, traveling 12 hours through snow and ice to get to Oklahoma.
The blizzard seemed to pass us by, so we loaded up on Christmas Eve to drive 60 miles to my in-laws home, where everyone was gathering. The reports started flowing in. One nephew tried to leave and immediately slid into a ditch. He and his wife decided to stay home with their baby girl, rather than risk it.
Another nephew was dying to get there. Just wasn’t going to happen.
My niece, Kim and her husband, made it to my parents in Tulsa. Safe!
As we celebrated Christmas with Richard’s parents, brothers and their families, and his 94-year-old grandmother, the blizzard hit us. The real fun began when we drove home. 15 miles an hour. Keeping our eyes on the road, on other cars, driving past car after car after truck in ditches.
Leslie, Stephen, Josh, Melissa, and Richard and I finally arrived at our home. Our normal 45 minute to 1 hour drive took 2.5 hours, but our house was warm and snug.
Then my daughter-in-law called. She and Ryan had rounded a curve on an exit ramp to find 6 other cars stranded. They had nowhere to go but in the drift. Ryan didn’t have a coat. The car was stuck so deep that they couldn’t budge it. The tail pipe was in the snow, so they turned the car off. Ryan found a pair of socks and a T-shirt. He put the socks on his hands and the T-shirt around his head and braced for the blowing snow and trekked toward a plow he had seen somewhere at a distance.
As a momma, the last thing you want to hear is that your son is walking through a blizzard with a T-shirt wrapped around his head, no coat, and socks for gloves, or that your sweet daughter-in-law is alone at 1 in the morning in her car on an exit ramp.
We were 60 miles from them. No way we could get to them, so I hit my knees.
I asked God to protect them both.
Kristin called back. A security guard was stuck two cars behind her. He told her he would stay in his car and not leave, even if he was able to get his car unstuck, until Ryan returned.
One safe. I kept praying for Ryan.
At 2:30 a.m. Kristin called me again. Ryan had pulled back up with a man in a truck who was able to put a chain on Ry’s car and get them out of the snow.
They almost made it home. They were three blocks from their house when they slid into a curb. Ryan and Kristin simply climbed out, grabbed their things and trekked home.
Christmas was a little late the next day. The Eller Christmas (where all of the Eller family gets together, about 150+ people) was cancelled for the first time in 25 years, but we were able to celebrate with our small family and it was great fun.
In those times you realize what matters most. It’s not the day, or the event, or the presents.
It’s the gift of family.