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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recalling a Christmas past


After the family left our house Christmas Eve, my wife and I put on some oldie's music and started to reminisce about Christmas past. My wife finally realized what my mother went through because our guests didn't leave until 2:00 A.M. and my wife had to get up at 7:00 A.M. to start the turkey. Christmas Day, she kept repeating, “I’m going to take a long nap when everyone leaves." Our last guest left at 6:30 P.M., so much for planning. It's only once a year, and if we had to do it over, we would still complain but we would do it all in a heartbeat. There are a lot of families without their loved ones this year.

With the music of the Temptations in the background, we started reminiscing about our Christmas trip to El Paso. I remember asking my friends at work about the best route, but it started a mini war with one side favoring Victoria to Del Rio to Ft Stockton and straight through to El Paso and the other side said, " Victoria to San Antonio take Interstate 10 and 900 miles later you'll be in El Paso." We selected the latter, but that was the easy part. I'd check my tires (four different Brands and one was a retread) hoses, radiator, and changed the oil and my wife did the packing and bought the food and supplies for the journey. As we were approaching Thomaston, my wife asked if I had locked the back door and turned off the coffee pot, as if I remembered or was going back to check, I gave her the standard, “yes." I can't remember where we had our fill up but we remembered asking the children if they needed to go to the bathroom because we didn't know what was ahead, two of them did but our middle child didn't have to go until we were 30 miles up to the road, so she got their first outdoor experience; we didn't have that problem on the way back.

We were in pretty good shape until we got to Ft Stockton where some white stuff started falling from the sky onto the roadway. My wife started getting excited and started waking up the kids to tell them that it was snowing but then again, she wasn't driving. It wasn't so bad until we got several miles outside of Ft Stockton, and we noticed that an 18 wheeler in front of us was the only other vehicle headed toward El Paso. The 18 wheeler was driving way too slow for me, so I remember getting over in my left hand lane to pass him because I recall saying, "why was that amateur driver driving so slow." After all, I was in my thirties, had a good job, and knew it all. My wife reminded me that we would only two on the road, but I put on my left-turn signal in an attempt to pass the truck, but as I did our car started to swerve and almost did a 180°, so I instantly realized that we were going to follow the red lights of that 18 wheeler all the way to El Paso, if possible. The driver probably got a good laugh of seeing another rookie traveler driving in his first snow.

When we eventually got to about 15 miles from El Paso, my wife said," I can take it from here." Gee thanks, the snow had stopped, and she drove the freeway to her house as if she never left home. Along the way, she sounded like a tour guide as she was describing all the sites to our children. When we arrived at our destination, everyone asked the usual question of "how was your trip?" This was one time when the reply led to a story. I never thought that I would ever hear the end of hearing my wife tell the story of my adventure into the snow covered left lane. Then came all the experts assuring everyone that they would not have done that. It was then when I remembered why I was never so happy to see the sign that read "You are now leaving El Paso."

Life's cycle will catch up with all of us one day or another. I remember when all of us at the table would smile and acknowledge when my stepfather would always say “I hate to leave good company but I'm going to take a nap." My wife and I felt like taking a nap the other day, but we're still looking forward to next year's Christmas.You'll get to that time when memories are better than gifts because they live forever.

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