“A beer truck knocked down a power pole at the Plaza. Traffic is being rerouted, and your electricity is out. Merry Christmas!”

That’s the text message I sent to my sister – who was out running errands at the time – when we got to her house, where we were staying overnight on our way to Minnesota a few days before Christmas. At first, she thought I was joking, but since there were no laughing or winking emojis accompanying my text, she quickly realized I was serious.

She lives in the Chicago area, and by the time the power was restored, the temperature had dropped to 59 degrees in the house.

That wasn’t our only excitement for the day. After my sister got home from her errands, we went out to lunch at the restaurant we always go to when we’re in town. While we were there, our car got sideswiped, leaving us with a shattered taillight, a gouge in the metal, and a scrape along the entire back panel of our car. Whoever did it left the scene without stopping, much less leaving a note.

On our way up to Minnesota the next day, I got a text from our son, saying, “Are you guys through there yet?” in reference to a traffic report about the interstate being shut down in both directions due to a series of crashes and pileups caused by icy conditions. In fact, we were right there, and getting lost trying to follow the confusing “Alternate route” signs. Fifty miles and an hour and a half later, we were able to get back on the interstate and continue on our way.

Although I generally agree with the adage, “Getting there is half the fun,” that was definitely not the case on this trip. In fact, it was almost enough to make us wish we had stayed home for Christmas.

But not really. Spending Christmas with our grandkids – including the one born in November, whom we were meeting for the first time – made it all worthwhile. Watching them open their presents on Christmas Eve, seeing them in their matching pajamas on Christmas morning, and enjoying their hugs and giggles all weekend long, reminded me what a magical time Christmas is when there are kids around. Everything else faded into the background.

We’re back home now. All the holiday decorations have been put away, the December hustle and bustle is behind us, and the leftover Christmas cookies and candy have been disposed of properly – although I won’t go into detail on exactly what that means. What we’re left with now are the memories and mementos, and lots of photos to remind us of the best parts of the holiday season. And for us, that’s always time spent with family. Although we can’t always be together in person, whenever we can – especially during the holidays – it’s the best gift of all.

January 8, 2022
©Betty Liedtke, 2022

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