Marvin's Window

Sometimes a white Christmas isn't the best kind

As I look out my window this Christmas 2005, I am not looking for a white Christmas.

I have seen a good many of them and once enjoyed the sledding, ice skating, snowmen and the snowball fights.

One of my more stupid experiences with a white Christmas involved a long drive home for the holidays. I piled a wife and three preschoolers into a 1941 Plymouth coupe and took off across Oregon for Grandma's house. It was a 400-mile jaunt across Oregon's High Desert and the Cascade Mountains.

We were alone on 150 miles of desert highway in a snowstorm. No gas stations. No other traffic. No ranch houses where I could walk for help.

I stayed between the barbed wire fences on each side of the rode when I could see them through the driving snow.

We made it OK, and I am forever thankful that my macho stupidity did not result in a newspaper account of someone finding a frozen family inside a Plymouth stuck in an isolated snowbank.

At least I was alone the next time I drove miles through bad weather to arrive in time for a family Christmas celebration.

I sipped a thermos of Russian tea on that trip from Athens, Ga., to Lansing, Mich., in a Corvair. I sure miss that car. It ended up in the junkyard when a belt broke and the aluminum engine melted on the drive to the garage.

We kept the two youngest children awake with stories and riddles on a later Christmas drive from Norman, Okla., to Michigan. I challenged them to name all twelve of the items in that "On a Pear Tree" song. A whole dollar went to the first one to get it right. No one did until. . .

We were having a hot drink in Lansing when my daughter said she could do it. She rattled off all twelve with ease, reached across the table and let me put a dollar in her hand.

I was puzzled how she got so smart so fast.

Then I noticed the wide grins on their faces. They could hardly contain themselves.

"Look at the wallpaper," her mother said. The smart kid had read the list from the wallpaper.

Dad had been scammed again.

Sometimes my Christmas antics turn out better. Like the year I bought a huge, three-foot poinsettia and left it on the front porch of a pretty lady.

My wife (yes, the same pretty lady) reminds me of that each Christmas season.

Or the year I finally fooled my younger brother with a wrapped Christmas present. He always seemed to guess what was in a package. The previous year I put a shirt in a round oatmeal box. He never even picked it up or looked at the tag.

"Is that shirt in the oatmeal box for me?" he asked.

The next Christmas I got him good. I wrapped an empty shirt box and made a paper collar on it. His present was the tie on the outside of the box.

He never guessed,

Hiding things in plain sight does work.

Christmas is a time for family activity, sharing and making memories and celebrating the birth of Jesus.

We also celebrate other special births during the Christmas season.

My oldest daughter was born Dec. 24 after a stressful drive on snowy roads to return to the home doctor and hospital.

My oldest son caused a lonely first Christmas in Vale, Ore., to be spent without the usual family visits. No one would come see us until he was born. He waited until the last minute and was the last baby arrival in the hospital that Dec. 31.

Babies and family bring special joy to Christmas including the Christ's Mass many people attend to show that Jesus is the reason for the season.

In my opinion, Christians are most comfortable with this holiday because it is easy to celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus. God wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger is no threat.

He is helpless and needs our care.

That is in sharp contrast to celebration at Easter with the empty cross after the death of Jesus.

Life has a way putting reality in our face.

Our own children are like that.

Each one is totally dependent on parents in the beginning and has no ability to challenge us.

Then they get to be teenagers. Soon, that baby girl brings home some big strong guy with pimples all over his face and they tell you they want to get married.

All at once the house is full of adult children and scurrying grandchildren at Christmas.

Those grown-up children are in the kitchen and the grandparents are "enjoying" the grandchildren knowing that the parents will soon take them home.

Grandparents sit around after Christmas wondering where all the time went so quickly.

Christmas is full of memories built one by one over the years.

Build some good ones this Christmas 2005 for yourself, the children and the grandchildren.

Don't forget to thank that tiny baby Jesus born in a stable 2,005 years ago.

Marvin Robertson writes a weekly column for the Miner.