My Most Memorable Christmas: A Tree, an Ice Storm and a House

We’ve all had holidays that are more memorable than others. Maybe it’s a certain gift that you got or who you spent the holiday with that makes it memorable, but whatever it is, you remember it better than other holidays. Mine happens to be quite unique, so without further ado, here is my most memorable Christmas.

Five years ago around this time, my husband and I had just moved into our first apartment together. It was out first Christmas as an engaged couple and we were diligently planning our wedding. I had just graduated from college and was in my first full-time job.

We had both just worked our last day before the holidays and had decided to go out with friends after work to celebrate. At some point on the way home, we realized that it had started to snow and spit out freezing rain, but it didn’t seem that bad. What we didn’t expect was to be woken up at 4 a.m. with a frantic phone call.

Taken on Christmas Day 12/25/2004

Exactly five years ago today my mom called me at 4 a.m. and woke me from my peaceful slumber to tell me she feared the giant beech tree that had stood in the yard of my childhood home for as long as I can remember was going to fall on the house. Groggily, I flipped on the weather channel, saw that we were getting an ice storm and decided that it didn’t look too bad. I told her to go back to bed and I would call her when I woke up. An hour later I was woken up again. This time my mother was frantic and I could hear my sister screaming in the background. It sounded like complete chaos. All I could make out was “the TREE is on the HOUSE!” I was stunned. Then I heard through the phone someone pounding on their door. They were still in the house. A neighbor was pounding on the front door, trying to get them out. I heard my mom fumbling with the front door, trying to yank it open, but it wouldn’t budge. All she kept saying was “the tree is on the house!”

Suddenly, my mind clicked into gear. I yelled at her to hang up, get out of the house and to call 911. I flew out of bed and was out the door in two minutes with my husband trailing after me. I’m not sure how I got my car out or how I made it across town in eight minutes in the worst ice storm I have ever seen, but somehow I did. I actually pulled up before the fire truck. The sight that I saw, I can never even begin to describe. In the black of night, with snow still coming down all around, was a tree laying across my now flattened childhood home. The tree literally went from one end of the house all the way across to the other side and was almost completely covering the house.

The fire truck pulled up a minute later and immediately began going to work pulling my mom and sister out of the house. Both were unharmed, but badly shaken up. Apparently the front door that my mom had been trying to yank open was what was supporting the weight of the tree from crushing the house completely. Thank God, she couldn’t get it open. I guess they made pretty sturdy doors back in 1928 when the house was built. When the tree trimming company showed up later that day to cut the tree off of the house, they said it weighted six tons.

My mom's bedroom

The two rooms that were damaged the worst were my mom and little sister’s bedrooms. Apparently, my mom was woken up by the dog acting weird, pacing the floor and whining. After shooing him away several times, she finally got up and went down to let him outside. That’s when she realized how bad the storm was and started to hear the tree cracking. She immediately ran upstairs and woke up my sister who was home on break from college. After calling me and then huddling together for a few minutes watching the news, they heard the awful creaking that was the old beech tree finally giving out and collapsing onto the house. After that complete chaos ensued. I can only imagine.

My family was shown much kindness that day and the days that followed. Neighbors offered food, clothes, shelter and more. It was very touching and I still get teary eyed when I think of everything that people did for us that day.

We stayed on the scene the entire day and the house was eventually deemed unsafe to enter. But my mom, bless her, wanted to pull our wrapped Christmas presents out from under the tree so that we could still have a holiday, it was after all December 23rd. So we waited until all the workers left and entered tentatively. Not smart, I know, but if it was going to help my mom get through the holiday, we were willing. I remember there was water everywhere from busted pipes and stuff from the attic that we had never even seen before had landed on the dining room table. In short the damage was beyond shocking to say the least. But we managed to grab some of the wrapped gifts from under the somehow still standing Christmas tree and my sister grabbed the Christmas turkey from the freezer. We rescued our family cat that had been trapped in the basement and loaded up my car.

My mom, sister, dog and cat moved in with my husband and I. We had a tiny two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. It was small to say the least, but we didn’t care. I remember making that turkey we had saved from the house and sitting at our very small, two person table and being so thankful that we were together and safe on Christmas. It was truly a Christmas I will never forget.

My mom ended up living with us for six months while they repaired her house. It took a total of eight months before she could move back in, but the insurance company put her up in an apartment of her own for the last two months. She still lives in the house. My husband and I now live down the street. To this day, every time I walk into that house I remember what it looked like that morning and am thankful that I have a mother and sister to share Christmas with.

Happy Holidays!

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