Favorite Memory of Christmas Snow in California

Funny story recounting one little boy’s joyous reaction the night it snowed in California on Christmas Eve.

Funny story recounting one little boy’s joyous reaction the night it snowed in California, on Christmas Eve.

Favorite Memory of Christmas Snow in California

Funny story recounting one little boy’s joyous reaction the night it snowed in California on Christmas Eve. Illustration by Kevin Rechin.

 

Story by Doris Bennett
Santa Clara, California

Farms, ranches and orchards made the foothills of San Francisco’s South Bay a wonderful place to live, especially at Christmas. My three boys didn’t have snow or sleds, but they had hills to climb, fields for kite-flying and fresh country air.

A favorite memory of mine dates back to a special Christmas Eve in 1962. We’d just had a baby girl, Suzanne. Our youngest boy, Ricky, 5, spent hours just watching her. “Mom,” he’d say, “if she gets any more beauty-fuller, I’ll just die!”

Every night, Ricky thanked God for sending Sue, saying she was “the best Christmas present in the whole wide world.” His heart overflowed with joy.

On Christmas Eve, we snuggled around the fireplace. I read The Night Before Christmas and we watched a holiday movie. I was answering Ricky’s question about caroling, explaining that people used to do this to spread the joy of Christmas, when his brothers started yelling:

“It’s snowing! Everybody look! It’s snowing!”

Our entire neighborhood was blanketed in white. The hills glowed in the moonlight. It was unbelievable. Snow in California! My boys jumped all over the yard, the excitement and wonder almost more than they could handle.

Suddenly, Ricky slammed through the front door. “Mommy, I just got a great idea!” he said. “I want to sing Christmas carols to God and our neighbors! Can I, Mommy? I have to sing carols to thank God for this great Christmas. He’ll hear me better outside, and I’ll stay just on our street!”

“But it’s dark and cold, and I don’t want you wandering around alone,” I said. Billy, 11, and Louie, 8, had just come back inside. “Your brothers will go out and sing with you.”

“No way!” they yelled. “What if our friends see us?”

“No one will see you, because I want you to stay in our front yard,” I said. “God will hear you well enough from there. So hush up and bundle up.”

Ricky beamed with pride. Billy and Louie mumbled as they stomped out the door behind him, kicking imaginary rocks.

The three of them stood in the snow and the moonlight. Bundled up in coats, hats and gloves, they looked like figures in a Norman Rockwell paintings except that the two taller boys looked like they were facing a firing squad. I was sure it’d be over after one lisping melody. Suddenly Ricky stepped forward, threw his little arms wide, tossed his head back, looked skyward and let ’er rip.

“Thy-a-lent night! Ho-oh-lee night!”

Sue jolted awake, screaming. Neighborhood dogs began yelping. Birds screeched and flew away. But never in my life have I heard man or beast make purer sounds of love and joy. This little man made sure God heard every word he sang.

As Ricky belted out one Christmas carol after another, porch lights popped on up and down the block. One neighbor must have suspected mayhem, because a police car cruised slowly past our house. I expected Billy and Louie to trample each other fleeing the scene of the crime, but they didn’t.

As a small crowd of smiling neighbors formed in front of our house, my heart swelled with pride. Billy and Louie were singing with their brother.

They faced the house, stocking caps down over their faces, coat collars pulled up high, hands cupped over their ears. They had no idea what was going on behind them or that they were part of a wondrous Christmas and favorite memory none of us would ever forget.

Emily Hale January 12, 2013 at 10:31 pm

What a sweet story! And so well written I felt I was there listening too. I wonder where the boys are today and if they are still that special. God Bless you ALL

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