The Christmas She Wanted
“No, I want Dad to see it. You’ll probably mess up my game.”
“I would not.”
“Brad, I can’t look at it now, I’m driving. Diana, you’ll have to read me the directions. Boys, stop fussing at each other. Brad, either put that thing away or let your brother look at it.” Mr. Rush looked in the mirror at his sons.
Reluctantly Brad handed his iPad back to Shawn with a “Be careful you don’t mess up my game.”
Shawn only spent a few seconds looking at it. “You’re not getting a signal. No wifi.”
At that Dixie whipped out her iPhone. “I can not believe this! Dad, we can’t stay here. There’s no signal!”
“What do you mean, no signal?” Lester wanted to know.
“It means your iPad won’t work unless you only use the games you’ve already downloaded.”
“Oh.” At that point Lester could have cared less. All he wanted was to reach where they were going to stay so he could eat.
“Dad, there’s no signal here,” Dixie repeated a little louder.
“I heard you, Dix. Now all of you please be quiet. What was that last thing you read, Honey?”
The tension level in the van was heavy. Dad’s voice had held an “or else” in its tone and the children all knew what that meant. No one even dared whisper but turned their faces to the windows where the darkening dusk was closing in and the snow continued to fall. The roads were still fairly clear and at last Saffell Park was reached. Mr. Rush stopped before the gate and rolled his window down. After a few instructions, a key was handed to him and directions to their cabin were given. “Is there a phone anywhere that we can use?” he asked. “We’re not getting any signal on our cells.”
“Oh, sure,” the woman replied. “There’s a phone in every cabin. Just push 9 before dialing an outside number. Yeah, when weather like this hits, the signals for just about everything disappear. They’ll probably be out for a week. It’s a usual occurrence in the winter. But who needs those signals at Christmas time, right? Oh, and we’ll call you as soon as the roads are open. If you need anything, let us know. Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas. And thanks.”
The woman waved as the van pulled into the park.
The road wound in and out through the trees. Now and then another cabin could be seen, the windows glowing with the indoor lights, vehicles, covered with snow, parked in front.
“Looks like we’re not the only ones stuck,” Mr. Rush remarked quietly. “Here we are.”
He turned the van into a circular driveway and stopped before a cabin. It was small in comparison to the house the family was used to living in, but it was larger than even a hotel suite. Large, bare trees formed a protecting half circle around the cabin as though to guard it from danger. A bird feeder, well filled, was standing near a large window. But the window was dark and no smoke came from the chimney. Everything was quiet and still when Mr. Rush shut the engine off. No one came out to welcome them and no friendly lights could be seen nearby. They seemed to be isolated from all the world they had known only a few hours before.
“Well,” Mr. Rush let out a sigh, “let’s get everything unloaded.”
“It looks like someone shoveled the walk once today,” Mrs. Rush remarked. “At least we don’t have to wade through the snow to reach the front door.”
Everyone was anxious to see the inside of the cabin and quickly carried their load of groceries to the porch and waited as Dad unlocked the door. Lights were flipped on as the family stepped inside.
They were in a large room which seemed to serve as a combination living room and dining room. To their right, at the end of the room, was a large fireplace, a couch and a few chairs grouped comfortably before it. To their left were the table and chairs which marked the dining area. Directly behind the dining part of the room was a doorway which led to the kitchen. Here the sacks of groceries were set down upon the counters before they continued their tour. A small hall from the middle of the large room led to the back part of the cabin. Two bedrooms opened up on their right and a small bathroom on their left.
“So we all have to fit in two bedrooms?” Dixie frowned.
“I think she said there was a loft,” Mr. Rush mused, leading the way back to the large room.
“I see it!” squealed Lester, spying the ladder against the side of the wall. Like a squirrel he had soon scrambled up. “Cool! There’s four beds up here!” Quickly his brothers followed him, with Dad coming last.
After the loft had been examined, Dad said, “Okay, let’s get the van unloaded. Come on, boys.”
“Dad, do I have to help too?” Dixie shivered. She had never liked loading and unloading the van when road trips were involved.
Glancing from his daughter to his wife, he hesitated and then replied, “You can either help unload the van, or stay inside and help your mother put the groceries away and start supper.”
Supper tasted good to everyone that night, even if it was just frozen box pizzas and carrot sticks. The meal was a quiet affair. Everyone was tired and discouraged. Dad had found the phone, called Grandma, and explained their situation. He told her that they didn’t know when they would arrive but that they were safe in a warm cabin until they could finish their journey. Somehow, just listening to Dad telling Grandma that they might not make it until after Christmas, made it all seem real. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve day and they would probably be stuck where they were until after Christmas.
Tomorrow was Christmas Eve day and they would probably be stuck where they were until after Christmas. Two whole days to spend without internet of any kind, no video games, no phone calls or texting. And it was discovered that their bag of chargers hadn’t ever made it to the van before they left so they had no way to charge their almost dead devices. They couldn’t even watch movies on a computer because they hadn’t brought any along.
The expressions on Shawn’s and Dixie’s faces read plainly that they were disgusted with the whole thing. Brad wasn’t too sure. He was torn between following the actions and attitudes of his older siblings or letting himself enjoy the time. As for Lester, it all sounded great to him and he could hardly wait till bedtime, for he’d never slept in a loft before.
Once supper was over and the dishes were washed, Dad called everyone into the living room. He had built a wonderful fire and it snapped and popped in a royal way as the flames danced on the logs and sparks sailed up the chimney. Let the snow fall outside and the winds howl around the chimney, it seemed to be saying, everything inside is warm because of me.
The family gathered in silence and found seats. The fire seemed to fascinate them all, for no one said a word for several minutes but sat watching the flickering flames. At last Dad spoke.
“Listen, I know this isn’t what we had planned, and your mom and I are disappointed too. I don’t know why it happened. But we have two choices we can make. One is that we can simply ‘endure’ this enforced delay and complain as little as possible, or we can choose to look at this as an opportunity to grow as a family.” He looked around the room, his eyes sober. “I heard a lot of complaining in the van this afternoon and it made me realize just how much we have lost.”
“Lost, Dad? What did we lose?” Lester wanted to know.
“We’ve lost the ability to be happy and content no matter what happens; we’ve lost the ability to function with joy when there is no internet; we’ve lost the desire to just be a family. Kids, perhaps this experience will help us set aside our dependence on outside things and learn to love each other more. I don’t want us to spend our time here complaining and grumbling about what we can’t do and wishing things were different.” He turned and looked at each one of the children. “Let’s make the most of our time here, all right?”
“Okay, Dad,” Lester nodded.
“We’ll try,” Shawn said, “but Dad, what are we going to do for two days?”
“Well, I’m sure we can come up with something. Now, let’s have a word of prayer and then you kids had better get to bed. I know Lester is longing to try out his bed, and it’s getting late.”
Mr. and Mrs. Rush sat together on the couch after the children had scattered. All was quiet save the crackling of the fire and the voices of the boys up in the loft settling in their beds. Tucking her feet up, Mrs. Rush leaned her head against her husband’s shoulder. “I love that fireplace, Oliver,” she whispered.
“It is nice,” Mr. Rush agreed, resting an arm on the back of the couch. Loud voices were heard in the loft.
“Be quiet, Les,” Shawn snapped. “We’re trying to sleep.”
“Lester,” Dad called, looking up to the dark loft, “stop talking and get to sleep.”
Silence was the only answer and Mr. Rush sighed. He was tired too. “I don’t know what the next few days are going to be like,” he whispered, “but they should be interesting.”
Have you had your Christmas plans messed up by weather?
Find out what happens on Saturday!
Enjoy tomorrow's post and Merry Christmas!