It’s snowing tonight, the first of December. A lovely way to begin the Advent season. So many Christmas memories seem to be tied to snow…snow we got, snow we wish we’d gotten…in this hemisphere, at least.
In one of my earliest memories, I am looking up, up, up at mountains of snow which stretch skyward on either side of me. Snow falls in the haloed light of streetlamps as I glide along.
It is the still-famous blizzard of 1966 in upstate New York. Sixty inches of lake-effect snow fell in the Syracuse area in a day. Our little ranch house sat at the top of a steep hill, and the garage was on the basement level, the driveway slanting down into it from the road. When the garage door was lifted that morning, a wall of snow nearly to the top greeted my dad.
He took an appliance box (washer?dryer?) and nailed it to a sled. Then he and Mom pulled me down the hill and into our little town of Phoenix (population 6,000–tops). I stayed there with my grandmother while Mom and Dad walked home and spent the next several days shovelling.
I’m sure my dad’s memories of that week involve bone-deep aches and pains, numbing cold. Mom was worried about me, I’m sure–it was her number one job. I don’t remember anything about my stay with Dad’s mother. I only remember that endless white towering over me as I huddled in the bottom of a moving box. I felt safe inside an enchanted castle, and I only remember the magic.
Isn’t that one of the great gifts of childhood? Too young to bear the weight of events, we enjoy life without shadows and without guilt. Learning to trust is learning to recover this old art: To sit in the magic circle of my Father’s protection and watch the snow with no worries…to become as a little child.