Monday, December 27, 2010

an unexpected gift

Yesterday was Boxing Day. Its origins are British, and based around the tradition of giving gifts to servants and others less fortunate.

We managed to celebrate the day appropriately. Instead of a family gathering -– the fourth in three days –- we were stuck at home instead, compliments of an epic blizzard. In stark contrast to our usually over-scheduled and over-managed lives, we were unable to do a darn thing about it, either.

Don’t get me wrong. We are blessed to overflowing with family and friends, wonderful people all. But what a gift to be able to sit and relax and just enjoy a day with meandering nothingness. A day to play recently-presented board games, and wonder lazily at the falling snow while using the gale-force winds as an excuse not to shovel – why bother?

As with any enjoyable thing this time of year though, the price tag was a heavy one, right up there with inflated credit card bills, expanded waistlines and overwrought children. The approximately two feet of snow that met our gaze this morning was devilishly difficult to deal with. It stuck to our shovels and front loader bucket. It blew in our faces and across the already-cleared patches. It iced up as soon as we uncovered that last little layer.

And the wind. Oh my, that wind. It had its own strong convictions about where it wanted the snow. It sculpted moonscapes and desertscapes with peaked hills and valleys, and bare patches just as a reminder. We put the snow over here, it decided it wanted the snow over there, and rearranged accordingly.

We had already cleared this part of the driveway!

The two older boys volunteered early in the morning for the heroic – there is no other word for it – task of feeding animals and livestock. They battled their way to the barn and the back pastures through drifts of snow that were over three feet deep. The feed buckets could not be found, so they improvised solutions to make sure everyone got fed. They filled hay bunkers, and trod passages to the water buckets so thirsty animals could get a drink. When I went out six hours later to check on the sheep, none of their hard work could be seen and the stock tanks were lost to view. I broke a path again, but the sheep did not seem inclined to try. I can’t say I blame them. They have food, they have shelter and they can eat the snow if they get desperate.

I don’t think we have ever, in our almost nine years in this house, dealt with a more terrible storm. My muscles ache, my toes still haven't quite warmed up, the floor is littered with damp outdoor gear and puddles of melted snow but still... it was worth it.


  1. It really was an epic storm and I think you folks even got a little more than we did. But the wind isn't finished with us yet...

  2. Sorry the storm was so hard to deal with in the aftermath for you but glad you got a day of rest. We enjoyed an extra day in Maine because of it and I'm really grateful we had it in the end.

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  3. Can you hear a peaceful sigh coming forth from my inner most being? This post made me sigh---in a great way. The togetherness of family is something that we really do not get many opportunities to experience in these very hectic times! I mean, just 50 or 60 years ago, it seems there were more opportunities to be "snowed in"---of course, there was often more tragedy as a result since modern conveniences are pretty helpful and life saving---thinking of your front loader :0).
    But it is awesome when a family can sit around and BE a family---playing games, working together for the "collective good" so to speak.
    Real life and plow trucks come along soon enough to give us our "freedom", but those moments of snowed in-ness are like you said..."worth it".
    May you and your family be abundantly blessed this coming year!