Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Christmas Blizzard... all my fault

Reading another blog reminded me of the time we had a blizzard on Christmas Eve. It's was Christmas Eve 1966. My sister Jeanne and I had gone to the local 5 and 10 cent store to shop for Christmas gifts with the few dollars we had. We had enough left over to get a soda at the hoagie shop next door. We bought Fresca. At the time, the only flavor they had was grapefruit. Anyone who remembers the Fresca commercial is surely dating themsleves! Who remembers the Fresca commercial, where the woman drinks a Fresca and a blizzard ensues? Well, that's what Jeanne and I did! It had been snowing lightly when we were shopping. So, off we go to the Hoagie Shop and buy our Frescas. Not long after, it's snowing in earnest! We honestly thought drinking the Fresca caused the blizzard!

My father had a part-time job at the Philadelphia Inquirer on Saturdays, working the 3 to 11 shift. Christmas was on a Sunday that year, so Dad had to work on Christmas Eve. My sister, Peggy was a senior in high school and worked at St. Francis Country House, a nursing home.

Up to this year, we had a tradition in our house to set up the Christmas tree but have Santa do the decorating. That way, Christmas morning would seem the most magical! Peggy was finished at work at 7PM, Dad at 11PM. Snow is piling up everywhere. Dad is 20 miles away at his job, Peggy is about 6 or 7 miles away at hers.
Peggy has a ride home but gets stuck partway home and they head back to the nursing home. Dad has to drive to Clifton Heights from Philly. He makes it as far as 69th street, find a pay phone and calls home to check in and let my mom know where he is. Mom tells him that Peggy is stuck somewhere between the nursing home and our house. Dad heads off towards Darby to look for her. Somehow he finds out that Peggy is safely back at the nursing home and will stay the night. So he heads for home again and at some point got stuck, had to leave his car and walks 5 miles, in the blizzard to get there!

In the meantime, Mom has a candle burning in the window and praying for everyone to get home safely. Oh! And the tree isn't decorated yet! And the gifts are still hidden from the kiddies! She's waiting for Dad to get home to help her!!!! I'm a little fuzzy about whether my Mom finally decorated the tree and got the gifts out or if she really did wait for Dad to get home to help her. I'd like to think she took the initiative and did it but, knowing Mom, she just might have waited for Dad!
All I remember Mom telling me years later that they finally got to bed at 6 am and we were all up at 7 to open gifts!!

I remember we had to walk to church up the middle of a busy street because it had been plowed. Of course, there were no cars on the road because they were all snowed in. We had to go to 9 AM Children's Mass (mandatory for students at Holy Cross School... the nuns actually took roll at Mass and if you weren't there, you needed a written excuse note and it had better be a good excuse! We even had assigned seating! Wow! The things that are coming back as I type!)

Anyway, after that year, we helped Santa by decorating the tree for him. And I don't think Jeanne or I EVER drank Fresca again!


Jim and Garret said...

Maybe you can find the commercial on youtube?

Joanie6726 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanie6726 said...

That was a great idea, Garret! I looked for it but I don't think it exists any more. Too bad, they were amusing.

Alix said...

I still love Fresca to this day! And yes, I remember the commercials vividly. What I didn't know was Fresca came in flavors OTHER than grapefruit.

Cool Story Joanie.

Your friend, the Comment Whore

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Lilly's Life said...

What a great story.I very much enjoyed it. Oh your poor parents and no doubt you still had a truly wonderful Christmas even though you had one hour's sleep.

Fresca and blizzards - how funny. Of course its summer here in Australia so its always hot at Christmas here. Its hard to imagine a white Christmas.

Oh yes, I went to one of those schools where they took the roll about going to Mass too. So many stories. We must compare notes one day!!!

Joanie6726 said...

Oh, I got plenty of sleep that night! I was just a kid. My poor parents got no sleep.