Frosty Melted

Dec 29, 2008 | Holidays

Finally the snow has melted away (at least in my part of town) and I think my friend Kelli Estes is probably still digging out.  Her part of the area (and my mom’s as well) got hammered with more snow on Christmas to the point where many people lost their power and are still stranded with unplowed streets and limited access in and out. That is one of the vagaries of Seattle weather. Right now the wind is howling and the rain is pouring down, but I called my mom who lives 35 minutes away and she has blue sky and patches of snow in her yard. We have, according to the weather experts, some of the hardest weather to predict because of all the forces that converge over the Pacific Northwest and specifically Seattle (we even have a “Convergent Zone”).

Our Christmas was definitely memorable—the snow and more snow, and even more snow made it so. My dad drove up from Roseburg, Oregon in just horrible weather. I have to give him huge kudos for making the trip. I adore having my entire family in the house on Christmas and look forward to it all December. I plan out the big dinner, shop, cook and plan obsessively, and then it all comes together like a beautiful dream. I’m not bragging, it is just one thing that I am good at—putting on a big family meal and having it all come together. I watched my mom and my grandmothers do it year after year, and I itched for the time when it would finally fall on my shoulders. Well it did about 10 years ago, and I live for the holidays. I feel so close to my grandmothers when I have the entire kitchen running—oven packed, all the burners going, family dodging around me, kids eating too many cookies and crackers, someone’s spilled punch. I mean really, does life get any better?

Now my family would probably describe it a little differently.  I also don’t share the responsibility any more than I have to, and I cringe when someone offers to bring something. Please don’t, it makes the control freak in me sort of crazy. Okay, a lot crazy. Unless it is my mom offering to bring rolls. She bakes killer rolls.

Well, as the days progressed toward my perfect Christmas, Mother Nature decided to give me a lesson.  Instead of thawing as I thought it should, the weather just continued getting worse. I spent my time living in front of the local weather reports. When you are stuck at home with the kids and no way to get out, the weatherman is your lifeline. I sat in front of King 5 begging for help. “Come on, Jeff Renner, give me some temps over freezing.”

But alas, the weather kept my mom and brother and his family stuck—which just made me so sad. I’ve only spent two Christmases away from my mom in my entire life, and I was starting to feel a little heartbroken. But my dad, God Bless him, went out of his way to make the day fun. He played video games with the kids and had them laughing until the house rang with it. And that is what Christmas is all about, isn’t it?  Great joy.

I ended up cutting the roast I had bought in half because we didn’t have enough people to eat 15 pounds of roast beef. (Did I also mention that I cook enough for a entire village?) As it happened, Matthew’s aid, Kelsey and her boyfriend had mentioned that they weren’t doing anything for Christmas, so I invited them over, because they are a wonderful part of our family and I knew they could get to our house. And to make my day complete, I discovered that her boyfriend eats. And eats and eats.  He polished off every bit of leftovers and practically licked the plates clean. My grandmothers were certainly smiling down.


  1. Sarah Tormey

    Thank you for sharing your memorable holiday. Family and food are the focus of my holidays as well. This year my husband and I traveled to southern Florida to be with my parents. While it was great to see my parents (and to cook Christmas dinner with my dad again!), my aunt and her children were not able to make the trip from Vermont. Thankfully my young cousin was able to set up a video conference with my sister on Christmas morning!

  2. Emily Cotler

    I have been keeping tabs on you Seattle folks. My mom called yesterday just to tell me she was in her car. I am so glad your Christmas was fun. Sorry your mom and her rolls missed it. Hugs from down south, where it was cold but sunny. And definitely over freezing.

  3. therese

    I was able to drive my car on the road this Sunday. Like you, I also am one to plan/host the whole holiday feast and last year was a huge highlight with extra family in from out of town. But this year, even before the blizzard hit in Oregon, I knew it was going to be a quiet party this year. A transition year, with all grown and ….

    So I counted my blessings that while the snow increased we didn’t lose power but did lose TV. It was time for books, lots of books to read. Wow. The snuggle in front of the fire and actually read my to-be-read pile. Wonderful.

    I knew another holiday transition will come, maybe as soon as next year, but this one was a pause from both nature and the empty nest stage. I made sure to appreciate the pause because life is always happening and writers need to read.

    But then I got a bonus phone call, a request, can we do our holiday gathering on New Years Day? It’s only a one week shift, the whole shabang, taking place in the afternoon on the first day of the new year. I’m thrilled! Maybe it will be a new tradition? The future is yet to be written – but – only a one week pause? Yeah! How cool is that?

  4. Elizabeth

    Therese, we did the same thing. Christmas II on New Year’s Eve. It was actually a great way to spend New Year’s Eve. And I hear you on the transitions.

  5. Kelli Estes

    You were right, Elizabeth, I was still digging out! In fact, we didn’t leave the house from December 23rd to the 31st. My house is on a slight hill so when we back out of the driveway, we immediately start sliding. Even though I grew up in Eastern Washington where it snows a lot every winter, it had been years since I drove in it and I was freaked out. There’s still a patch of snow on the hill today (January 4th – your birthday – Happy Birthday!!!) that I’ll have to shovel away in order to get my son to school tomorrow.

    I have to admit, though, I enjoyed being snowed-in for Christmas.





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