SATURDAY MORNING I OPENED the blinds to a winter landscape awash in brilliant sunlight. That’s not particularly unusual for December in Minnesota. But what proved different were the two pillars of light flanking the sun with a rainbow arcing between. Sun dogs glared stronger than the center sun and I couldn’t stop looking at the scene.
I’m no scientist or weather person, but the sun dogs and rainbow have something to do with the frigid temps and ice crystals in the atmosphere. They lasted for hours, a true gift on a morning when I welcomed brightness in my day.
PLANS UPENDED BY WINTER STORM
I needed that beautiful light in the midst of Christmas plans that didn’t quite unfold as hoped. I expect many of you experienced the same as this massive winter storm moved from state to state. My son, whom I haven’t seen in a year, had to rebook his canceled flight from Indianapolis. His plane lands early this evening at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and he arrives here Tuesday morning with his oldest sister and her family. I cannot wait to enfold him in a tight, lingering hug.
Yesterday Randy and I drove the 35 minutes to our eldest daughter’s house for a holiday meal and time together with the four of them, including our two precious grandchildren. We played space BINGO and watched a little artist paint and gave lots of hugs and then celebrated Christmas with a zoom call after our holiday meal. I am thankful for such technology bringing my family together from Minnesota to Wisconsin to Indiana.
For many families, Christmas together never happened, and not just because of canceled flights. All of southwestern (my home area on the prairie) and south central Minnesota were basically shut down by the multi-day blizzard. More than 2,000 miles of roadway were closed, including interstates. Snow gates were dropped into place, blocking access. The Minnesota National Guard was called up to rescue stranded motorists, who shouldn’t have been out in a storm that packed up to 40 mph winds whipping snow into concrete-hard drifts. I understand a blizzard, having grown up on the prairie. Not everyone does.
I understand the strong yearning to be with family. Being separated from loved ones during the holidays is simply emotionally challenging. I am sort of used to it given only one of my three adult children remains in Minnesota. But the missing never goes away.
This year brought an added dimension of missing. Missing Mom, my first Christmas without her. I thought I was doing fine until the final song at our Christmas Day morning worship service. Only moments earlier, a woman pushed her elderly father to the front of the church to receive Holy Communion. In that moment, my mind flashed to my wheelchair-bound mom. Within minutes, I was crying, trying not to sob. I removed my glasses, wiped the gush of tears with the backs of my hands. I felt Randy’s hand on my back, a loving and comforting gesture.
Later that evening, my friend Gretchen texted asking for prayers. Her mom died unexpectedly earlier in the day. After Christmas Day morning worship. After lunch and gift-opening at her sister’s house in Washington. Now Gretchen and her family are scrambling to book flights from southwestern Minnesota. This broke my heart. To lose one’s mama is hard enough. But to lose her on Christmas Day, even harder. My friend Beth Ann experienced the same two years ago. Christmas will now forever be connected to loss. Yet, Gretchen and Beth Ann are both strong women of faith. Like me, they know we will see our moms again. Together. Just not now.
TELL ME: Are you grieving this holiday season? Did your Christmas plans change due to weather? What’s the weather been like in your area? I’d like to hear your stories on any/all of these topics.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling