At the very start of this winter season, we were lavished with snow. It fell in lacy swirls, but quickly accumulated, the branches of trees no longer vertical, but bowing in majesty to the weight of winter. Enchanting.
So what did my kids and I do in that foot of snow? Did we make a snowman? No … too logical. Did we shovel? No … too practical. Did we stay inside with a fire in our fireplace and delight ourselves with cocoa and a wintery movie? Of course not! That would’ve been too amazingly perfect. Instead, we went to Target in our Mini Cooper! Of course! Why wouldn’t I decide that the thing I absolutely had to go get needed to be gotten right then? Now, two weeks later, I couldn’t tell you what that thing was. But I guarantee it was important enough to leave the safety and warmth of our home … wasn’t it?
I would equate my drive there to the unknown quote that says, “When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane!” Completely! First, there was the overconfident truck that passed me. This not only made me slow down even slower, so as not to bump into the Ford-shaped leviathan, but also nearly set my miniature wipers into flight as they rapidly tried to scrape the slushy-backlash off my windshield! Breathing deeply, driving at a snails pace, I imagined the scene from Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation, envisioning my Cooper riding under the big-wheeled rig ahead.
After about two minutes of peace, there were the snow drifts, (encrusted with ice beneath for a fun little skid every forty feet). My kids, meanwhile, were: singing Christmas songs loudly, asking me to switch the number of the song, requesting I turn it up, turn it down, or make one or the other stop singing so they could have their turn to sing alone.
I was frazzled, to say the least, until I saw the snowplow ahead … NOT dropping salt … NOT scraping the undercurrent of ice I was riding like a rail, but driving past, no doubt on its way to do God knows what since, in my opinion, it certainly wasn’t doing its job! I wanted to shout, “Why the heaven are you even on the road? To tease us?” But I had my little cherubic singers to think about after all … listening to “Silent Night” in Spanish, while one tried to sing it in English, as the other chose to sing it in German that he learned at last year’s Christmas concert. Like a bubble of United Nations, it was a multicultural, cacophony that was anything but silent and peaceful, as the ironic song suggested.
Finally, after a fifteen turned forty-five minute drive, we made it! I saw the red and white Target sign and felt the way a forlorn sailor might when he sees the beacon of a lighthouse in the distance. Euphoric!
Finding a spot directly in front of the store, I remembered all the great reasons we’d left in the first place. I could just feel the warm heat of the entrance, breathe-in the sharp scent of espresso from the adjacent Starbucks and picture my Cartwheel app scanning up digital savings. We were almost there. Almost. But if you’ve been following me for awhile, you know how I feel about almost. Almost never actually happens; therefore, almost doesn’t exist.
Right when I pulled into the fateful spot, I felt a soft “whoosh” of my Mini-Cooper’s tire over a not-so-mini-friendly tuft of snow. Immediately, a train of words that only travel with exclamation points punctuated my mind as my cheeks turned winter-bitten red. Back and forth. Drive and reverse. Breathe in, fume out.
“Why aren’t we getting out if we’re there?” my daughter asked from the backseat.
“Because we aren’t actually there!” I said, not as calmly as I should have.
“Yeah we are,” my son chimed in.
“I see it,” she affirmed.
“We’re not moving,” he added.
“I think we’re parked,” she finished.
“We aren’t parked!” I said, stepping out.
“Then why are you getting out?” he asked helpfully!!!!!
I think I slammed the door without answering, figuring that if I did answer, I might not be able to keep my prickly words from shooting out of my mouth like porcupine quills. Thinking through the things I’ve seen people do, I kicked snow out from under each of the tires, rocked it back and forth, looked around like an idiot trying to solve my own personal rubics cube puzzle of white. And you know what I realized? The things I’ve seen people do don’t work for five foot three people like me.
As I took a moment to look up to the still-snowy sky, I noticed headlights behind me. Turning like a literal deer in the headlights, I found myself staring at a gorgeous eggnog-colored sparkling Escalade. It sailed across the snowy patches with ease, stopping just in front of me. In a moment, three gentlemen came out. “Need a little help?” They asked smiling.
“Yes!” I said, almost laughing at how instantly my very independent nature humbled itself.
Within two minutes they had my car cleared and parked. Not stopping to park themselves, I was surprised when they just kept going. They weren’t headed to Target, but just (for some divine reason) passing through the parking lot. Sliding into our ultimate destination, Hebrews 13:2 crossed my mind, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Three strong men coming out of nowhere in a pearly-white vehicle? Stranger things have happened than to acknowlege seraphic work was being done.
So after all that, we got our “whatever it was,” and slowly made our way home, much less eventfully than we came. There were other cars, but they stayed behind me. There were plows, but they were doing their job scraping and salting. There was signing, but one song, in one language – together. And if I’d had any less of a memory, I’d say it was almost as if none of the driving drama had happened at all.
In the end, I believe that sometimes God allows us to make a fool out of ourselves, just to remind us that we need him … that he will provide … and that there just might be such a thing as snow angels to keep you safe on a wild, winter day.