Which sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true. So here’s the deal.
My parents live in Arkansas, which is where I grew up, although I won’t usually admit that too readily.
Arkansas is a warm place. It snowed more than four inches only once in my memory. We’ve had wicked ice storms and little flurries and lots of scary tornadoes, but snow is rare.
Thanks, all you little wee ones who asked Santa for snow. It was lovely, except when it wasn’t.
My holiday went a little something like this:
Went to the rental car place early (we were the first ones there, and partook in free coffee and donuts), and picked up our wee, fuel-efficient car.
Packed up the car with all our stuff (prepared in advance), and got out on the road to Arkansas.
Stopped at Eli’s Barbecue Grill in Tupelo, MS for lunch. Best. Barbecue. Ever. We will go again. Left with a metric assload of fried okra, but still were unable to tip the waitress. (Dad ate the okra when we arrived later).
Drove six hours through heavy rain to Ft. Smith, with a short stop at Taco Bueno for dinner. Was surprised at how posh Taco Bueno has become. So posh!
Hung out with my mom and then went to bed.
On the eve of Christmas, we did some pick-up shopping. We ate lunch at Basil, a surprisingly excellent Thai restaurant in Barling. I had no idea that we’d find that. In Barling! Wow. My brother called from Ft. Worth to say that it had begun snowing there, and that he was heading out. I distinctly heard my mother tell him not to come if the weather is bad. He left anyway.
Went home to trim the tree and think about going to Mass. At about 6, it started to snow in Ft. Smith. My brother called because he had attempted a u-turn on the highway near Sherman and had driven off the road. He called again after another 45 minutes to let us know that somebody had pulled him out and he was back on the road again. My mother’s blood pressure rose visibly (I kid, but she was stressed). The snow fell more heavily outside.
At about 8, we had some leftovers and finished trimming the tree. We began to wonder if we’d go to mass. At around 9:30, we decided not to go to mass, as the streets were covered with at least 3 inches of snow. No plows. This is the first time I’ve missed Christmas mass since I was three. Read from the Koran instead.
At 11 or so, my brother calls to tell us he’s driven off the road again, this time in Eufala, OK. He almost went off the bridge into the river. Almost. But now he’s in the mud, waiting for a tow truck. While he waits, we find a Love’s Travel Stop in Eufala and instruct him to go there and wait it out until morning. Surprisingly, he does. Under a cheap Mexican-style blanket. With wet socks. While he’s there, a Jeepload of other stupid young people stops in on their way to Greenwood (about 5 miles from Ft. Smith).
We go for a walk in the snow around midnight. It’s lovely and quiet. The neighbor who has filled his lawn with those holiday inflatables will wake up to find that they’ve all crumpled under the weight of the snow. I regret that I forgot my camera at the house, but the flash wouldn’t have worked anyway.
We go to bed. At around 8:30 the next morning, Mom gets a call from the brother, who is yet again stuck in a ditch, this time in Dora, about 5 miles from home. We eat breakfast, bundle up (thank goodness I had the presence of mind to bring along my duck boots) and head out. The brother is stuck in the worst possible place, at the bottom of a gully in the middle of the median on the divided highway, and he’s worked himself into a muddy rut. He’s pretty covered, and his socks are wet, but the heater on his Golf still works (did I mention he was driving a Golf with bald tires?), and so I call AAA and sit in his car with him after we try to push him out (unsuccessfully).
While we wait, a man comes along with his own trail-rigged Jeep. He’s avoiding his mother-in-law, and drives down into the ditch to try and pull us out. He digs himself in up to his left front wheel well, and the brother leaves his window down throughout it all. The blanket comes in handy, since his seat is now covered in mud. AAA isn’t sending anyone out until the next day or the day after. We wait at the rest stop until the brother tells us that the help the other guy called almost got themselves stuck, too.
At 4, after the husband is conned into cleaning out the chimney (hey, he was already dirty anyhow), we finally have Christmas, and it lasts off and on until 9 because we are all so exhausted. The fire in the fireplace is nice.
The next day, we head out and I call AAA again. Since I’m the responsible party I sit in the car and wait, and eventually the guy shows up with his big truck and no coat, shivering and being really nice and after about 20 minutes he gets us out, at which point the brother has to explain himself to the nice highway patrol officer. We go have barbecue, and it’s delicious. We go to Wal-Mart and wander around for a while and I buy some jalapenos and some underripe tomatoes, and we go home to cook dinner for the guests who are coming over in an hour.
The guests are fun. The rest of the evening is relaxing and helped by a couple of bottles of wine.
The next day we go see Avatar, and I am floored by how beautiful and amazing and unbelievable it is. We go have some really excellent Salvadorean food, and the brother stays over the night so that he doesn’t have to drive in the dark, the first smart decision he’s made in three days.
The day before we’re set to leave, the brother heads out and we go shopping some more. We go for a walk in an old cemetery near my house, and find a surprising number of hand-carved gravestones, some of which are very old. For lunch, we eat at an Indian restaurant which is really a Persian restaurant but is very good, and we eat some gelato in the cold, and go get some cherry wood from the dinner guests a few nights before.
And then we head home, and on the way we get a speeding ticket, but only because we have Georgia plates and we’re in West Memphis.
So as another present to myself, I see Avatar three more times, and each time am amazed at how beautiful and wonderful and unbelievable it is.
I stay in on New Year’s Eve, mostly because I’m exhausted but also because I just want to drink champagne and watch Bollywood movies. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is really good when you have lots of champagne.
Today was a Monday and it kind of sucked and my parents put their elderly cat to sleep, but at least my brother didn’t put his car in a ditch. And we have new dishwashers and coffeemakers at work! It’s like a vacation from my vacation.
I will probably go see Avatar again on Saturday.
Several people have told me how glad they are to be back from vacation; it’s funny how we strive all year to take these 2 weeks off just to be relieved when we get back to the grind…