I got a little too busy to write a Christmas column this year. But I had one in mind, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m a week too late.
Christmas was quickly approaching in 1992. I lived in Ogden UT, where it seemed that each snowstorm would hit the mountains, bounce back over the Great Salt Lake, and then hit us again. There have been plenty of big snowstorms before that year, and plenty after, but that one was a doozy.
Eventually, the snowplows gave up–they had done all they could–and everyone was left to fend for themselves. There was still six inches of snow left on the road. While I did my paper route, my other job was to help push people out of snow drifts while I walked around. It was a busy time.
I don’t remember what I got for Christmas, but I remember what I did. We didn’t go visit family, as was our custom. No, the weather stopped us from doing that. What I did was shovel the walk.
We lived on a road where we were one of the few young families. Most of the people on the road were in their 80s or 90s. Many of them were widows. My dad decided that we were the responsible ones for shoveling their walks. And when he said we, he meant my brother and myself.
If I remember right, there were five driveways we needed to shovel. Just after opening our presents, we went out and got started, even while the snow was coming down thick. We finished ours and then moved on. By the time we were done with all five, our driveway needed cleaned again.
And so that’s what we did, all day long. The snow didn’t stop, and we didn’t either. We must have shoveled those same walks four or five times. The drifts were getting higher than our heads where we had stacked the snow up.
Finally, we were let in for Christmas dinner. We were tired, but mainly by being teenage boys, we were hungry. I don’t think Christmas dinner ever tasted so good to anyone.
A few months later city officials were concerned that the weight of the snow could damage houses. Some carports already caved in. People were buying roof shovels–a shovel with an extra long handle–to shovel the roof. I remember going to church one Sunday, when they announced church would be cut short that day. The rest of the day we went out and shoveled the roofs off of all the houses in the neighborhood that had not had their roofs shoveled yet.
I don’t know what I got for Christmas that year. Most Christmases of my youth are a blur of sugar, Christmas movies, and over stimulation that left me in an agitated state. But not that Christmas. That Christmas I think I slept soundly. My body was well fed, and my spirit was too.
Too often, no matter what we preach, Christmas does end up about getting everyone the present they wanted, and fitting as many carbohydrates into our bellies as we can handle. What we might need is to shovel the snow a little more. Let’s hope next year’s Christmas might be a white one.
Thanks for reading!
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