There’s a picture of me when I was about 6 years old standing on top of a pile of snow that had been pushed by plows to the side of the road. It’s twice as high as any car, and so my parents’ green AMC Javelin looks tiny and I look even tinier in that picture. My memory of how much it used to snow here in Rexburg might have been exaggerated by a young mind, but then, there’s that picture. There’s proof, that at least that year, snow was a massive presence in this farm town.
It was snowing when I woke up this morning but not enough to reach as high as the cars. Not even enough to completely cover the lawn.
There were just a few last minute gifts to get so I went with the boys to town. I drove down Main Street and looked for all the stores that were open when I lived here. There aren’t many, anymore. The hardware store is now a call center for an alarm company. The shoe store, both jewelry stores, the blacksmith (for real, there was a blacksmith), the place where you could buy both snowmobiles and baseball mitts–all gone. The courthouse and jail are still in the same place, though, because justice never goes out of style.
I dropped the boys off at their cousins’ house and went back to my in-laws. I walked down to the river that cuts through their back yard. It’s beautiful there, and quiet. I scared a blue heron on my way. If he could understand me, I would have called out and said, “Hey, let’s both stay here!” And if he could speak English he would say, “Oh, I’m not leaving because you’re here. I just remembered I left the oven on.” And I would say, “You have an oven?” And he would say, “Just kidding. You frighten me. I’m getting the heck out of here.”
It’s quiet now, and there’s the sound of the river, and you can just barely hear the cars on the highway about a mile away. It started snowing while I was down there and I wondered where all those cars were going on Christmas Eve. Did they have their Christmas shopping done? Was one of them going to propose to their girlfriend tonight? Were they going to cook a ham tomorrow? Were any of them planning on putting towels on the heads of their children as they acted out the Nativity story? A lot of those people were headed to houses that would be peaceful and ideal. And I thought of my friend Bill Conley who will instead spend Christmas in the hospital getting his body blasted all to crap with radiation. Leukemia. I know there are those stories, too.
I got cold, came inside and called Amy. Later tonight we’ll all gather and eat good food. We’ll sing and put towels on the kids’ heads and act out the Nativity story. The kids will go to bed with frenzied thoughts about Legos and Santa. And I’ll go to bed grateful for all the ways that God manifests Himself in my life.
Here’s Amy’s thoughtful reflections about this time of year.