Guiding Light

We were lost in a blizzard till the lights of Christmas pointed us home.

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- Posted on Dec 6, 2013

Christmas tree

Most Christmas trees are tall and green with pine needles. Not my mom’s.

Ever since she and Dad had retired to their remote farm, she’d been working in ceramics. One of her proudest pieces was an 18-inch Christmas tree, adorned with lights. “It looks great,” she told me on the phone. “Can’t wait to show you.”

My husband, Jim, and I lived about a 2 ½-hour drive away, in Omaha, and that day we were coming to visit. She was concerned about our drive. “Be sure to pack an emergency kit,” Mom said. “The forecast calls for snow. Maybe even a blizzard.”

It didn’t seem likely. The skies weren’t threatening. Jim, our three young children and I headed out the door with just our suitcases and bag of presents.

The first hour, our drive couldn’t have been more pleasant—endless farmland punctuated by gingerbread-like farmhouses lit with cheery Christmas lights. Then from out of nowhere, the weather changed. The snow started and built quickly, accumulating on the fields and roads. Soon it was swirling so rapidly that we couldn’t see. I leaned forward in my car seat, so I could help Jim spot the curves in the road. We turned on the window wipers full blast.

Nothing helped. The road disappeared from sight. So did the lighted farmhouses. We wanted to stop, but didn’t dare. We were miles from the nearest town, without any supplies. Jim tried to joke about our situation, trying to ease the tension. “It feels like we’ve been driving around in circles in this pasture for 20 minutes,” he said. But I was too frightened to be in the mood for humor.

We drove on for a while, not knowing where we were or where we were headed. Then Jim pointed out the windshield. “See those bright lights? That must be a town. I don’t remember any town out here, but I’m going to head for it.”

We drove for I don’t know how long, until we reached the lights. Jim stopped the car. It wasn’t a town at all.

A man and a woman came running out. Dad, and then Mom, uttering a prayer of thanks. I stared in awe at the lights coming from their window, shining almost blindingly bright from Mom’s ceramic Christmas tree.

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