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When I woke up on Christmas Eve 1998, there was no power. When I looked out my window to the back yard of our home in Richmond, VA, everything was crystal. We had the biggest ice storm I’d ever seen. I was 16.
My main concern was that the dogwood tree in our back yard would snap in half. I loved that tree for some reason, loved seeing it outside my window every morning during every season. My parents’ main concern was that we didn’t have power and would freeze to death! We always spent Christmas at home–just my parents, my younger sister, and me–so thankfully we didn’t have to cancel travel or anything. They did cancel the Christmas Eve service at church, which did away with our annual Christmas Eve dinner with a few family friends, sadly.
We sat around and played board games in the family room with a fire going for a few hours, and then our power came back on. We always joked that someone important from the power company lived on our line, because neighbors would be out for days while ours always came right back on. Little did we know good family friends were without power for almost a week while we merrily scampered around the house, “iced” in.
My family was very heavy on Christmas traditions, and we don’t give them up easily. So Ashley and I decided we needed to still have our Christmas Eve service. We sang the song our youth choir was supposed to have sang that night, we read the Christmas story in the Bible, and all four of us lit candles, went onto the porch, and sang “Silent Night.” I specifically remember having a special Christmas Eve dinner. I think we had Cornish game hens, which is what Mom cooked for Dad their first Christmas Eve together. (I am not sure how this happened since I don’t think we could get to the store! Maybe it was what we were supposed to have the next day.)
I have nothing but amazing Christmas memories from growing up (except from the years we went somewhere else, like Grandma and Grandpa’s–they hate Christmas–and Disney World, where Ashley and Dad fought the whole time). My parents did a remarkable job of spoiling us rotten while keeping it in our minds that it was about the Christ child. This is my fourth Christmas away from home and I still ache to be with Mom, Dad, and Ash, going through all our Christmasy rituals and going to eat Chinese food with the friends on Christmas Eve. Maybe sometime I will get used to be grown up. But not yet.