Be Careful When You Dream of a White Christmas!

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By Robert O. Graves, CFP® CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™

As we approach the Christmas holiday, I have been thinking about past Christmas experiences and one sticks out in my mind.  Years ago, my family was lamenting about never having the experience of a white Christmas.  They’ve never had a Christmas where they’d wake up in the morning with the front and back yard covered in snow.  I remembered my childhood growing up on the East Coast and told them how magical that is.  They said, “Well, why don’t we do it?”  I replied, “Well, that means getting on a plane, going back east.”  They said, “Yes, let’s do that!”

So we set it up.  We’re going to have a Graves family reunion in Buffalo, New York.  We planned it for a week before Christmas, and everybody from the West Coast got on the plane.  My wife, Sandy and I, my sons, Steven and Brian their families all flew to Buffalo, New York.  We didn’t know at the time how white this Christmas reunion would be!

We rented the party room at a hotel in Buffalo not too far from the airport, easy for the Buffalonians to get to the hotel.  We arrived on Thursday and on Friday, we met with the hotel people that helped us decorate the room, set up a Christmas tree and prepared the audio equipment for music so we could have Christmas carols. The party was on Saturday night with a run-through on Friday.  Everything looked good.  The tree was beautiful!  After the run through, we went to bed Friday night excited, tired and very happy.  Then it happened!

The worst blizzard the Buffalo area had in probably 30 years.  It closed down the New York fairway.  People were trying to get into the hotel.  Cars were jammed everywhere.  The hotel front desk was calling our room in the middle of the night to see if we had extra blankets because people were sleeping in the hallways.  We still laugh that our son, Brian had slept through everything!  The rest of us tried to help out as best we could, sharing the spare blankets and pillows with those in need.  I don’t know how many extra people were in the hallway, but it was jammed.

The next morning, we looked outside.  It was a Christmas wonderland!  We had probably a foot and a half to two feet of snow that came down that night.  So this is what you’d call “lake effect” snow.  It’s very heavy.  It’s wet, very big.  I mean, the flakes are huge! So it piles up very fast.

And now, we’re supposed to have our party Saturday night, and we have all this snow.  We made calls around to our relatives who were supposed to attend.  When we questioned them about how they were going to make it through to the party, they said, “Oh no, we’re fine.  We’re Buffalonians!  We can get there. We’ve got trucks with snow tires and it’ll be no problem for us.”  I thought to myself, “I’m glad we got here early, because we wouldn’t have made it!”

So Saturday evening, they started arriving at about 5:00, and every single relative (about 40 people) made it to the party. Everybody was there, and we had an amazing celebration with singing.  My sister had a wonderful singing voice, so she led everybody.  I don’t think we broke up until maybe 11:00 at night, and they started going home.  So they left in their snow-tired trucks.

Sunday morning, the first thing we did was call all our relatives to make sure they got home safe (which they all did!) We then made ourselves helpful.  We went out to the hotel parking lot and scraped snow off cars, helping car owners locate their vehicle. We did this by taking snow off any car, and then we yelled out what it was.  I remember, I helped with one car yelling out the color and that it had an Ohio license plate.  Off in the distance, somebody hollered “Oh, that’s mine!”

And so we had a wonderful white Christmas.  We haven’t flown back to Buffalo in the winter since because I don’t want to be in another blizzard!  It’s a memory that we will never forget because everybody from the East Coast and the West Coast were there. We were blessed!  We celebrated with extended family, we enjoyed exceptional hospitality at the hotel, and experienced the spirit of Christmas in helping strangers.  What a time!  What a memory!

May you have a blessed Christmas season, full of all the things in your life that are your true wealth!

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