The absolute, God-is-real, angels exist, magic-is-in-the-air, yes-Susan-there-is-a-Santa, gratitude-filled Christmas memory happened when I was 8.
The season began tragically when my father was killed in a plane crash just two weeks before Christmas.
It was a terrible, sad time. Yet, after the funeral, my mother put up a tree for us. My grandmother was displeased, saying it was inappropriate to celebrate Christmas when her son had just died. My mother felt differently. She felt it was very important for her children to have a Christmas.
Then she made another decision, and as she packed our suitcases, announced, “We’re going to visit your uncle on the West Coast. We’re going to Victoria where there is NO SNOW!”
She was pretty excited by the “no snow” part. I was not. I was worried that the combination of “no daddy” and “no snow” would mean Christmas might not actually happen. I didn’t mention this, though. Mom was busy, and besides, the plans were made. We were to fly from Calgary to Vancouver and then to Victoria.
The trip itself was quietly terrifying for my young self. As you can imagine, considering what had just happened to my father, just getting on a plane to go somewhere didn’t seem like the best idea.
We left a snowy Calgary on Christmas Eve and landed in Vancouver to find all remaining flights that night were cancelled due to fog. Victoria travellers would have to be bussed to a ferry. This added many hours to our journey, and you can imagine how exhausted my mother was, travelling with two small children and overwhelmed by crushing hordes of cranky people in airports, busses, and then a crowded ferry.
Things brightened once we made it to Victoria and were greeted by my favourite uncle. He took us back to his beautiful home where we spent Christmas Eve, leaving snacks for Santa, with me silently hoping for miracles.
Victoria sits in one of those strange places in Canada that just doesn’t receive snow. It was lovely and green and there wasn’t a snowflake to be seen that night as we arrived. I felt my heart sadden with the thought that not only would my father not be there, but without snow, Santa might not arrive.
Christmas morning we awoke to a heavy silence. No birds singing, no car sounds, everything was very still. Overnight it had miraculously snowed.
It was the first time in many years Victoria had received snow at all and the first time in anyone’s memory that it had showed on Christmas Eve. And of course, Santa had somehow left gifts under the tree.
To this day, I can still feel in the center of my body what my 8 year old self felt that morning. An absolute certainty that my daddy in Heaven had made the snow just for us and our most unforgettable Christmas gift ever.