Christmas Day was a day to remember here in Allenspark, Colo., in the Rocky Mountains at 8,500 feet. December is not the snowiest month of the year and when we walked to the log cabin church on Christmas Eve the weather was clear and not that cold.
The next day was very different. The temperatures dropped, and the wind picked up and seemed to get stronger and stronger as the day went on.
We were all at the local community center and art gallery called The Old Gallery -- 13 of us. Mike, me and his extended family from New York state, Pennsylvania, Sacramento and New Orleans.
Since we were there the building was officially open to the public and we had an eclectic bunch of people stop in from time to time during the day. It was nearly a white-out. Not a blizzard because it wasn't snowing but the wind was so strong that it was very dangerous. We watched snow devils whip their way across the road and parking lot and looked for moose and elk which were too smart to be out in the weather. No one went hiking.
I was in the kitchen at brunch making eggs Benedict for the 13 of us when an East Indian family of four stumbled in (no ham on theirs). Then a German couple stopped in on their way to a nearby lodge and there was enough to feed them, too. Our visitors were surprised and pleased to find some place open between Lyons and Estes Park. Throughout the day we offered guests coffee, tea, clean bathrooms and emergency gasoline if they needed it since there are no gas stations between Lyons and Estes Park.
Mike's family spent all day at the Old Gallery playing cards and board games. When it grew dark, we had a big turkey dinner with two kinds of stuffings, a pilaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, yams, and special broccoli to contrast with the cranberry sauce.
It was my special day too, not just Jesus', so we further celebrated with two birthday cakes -- one carrot cake and one German chocolate cake. By this time the day was winding down. Everyone was exhausted. I drove Mike's sister-in-law back to her cabin as she had a bad cold and I actually thought I could then go home, too, and crawl into my warm bed. It was dark and the wind was howling but the roads were clear.
As I drove Lourdes home, we passed a disabled car by the side of the road, lights flashing. I slowed and gave a look but no one seemed distressed, just intent on getting the tire changed and on their way. But just in case, I drove back to check on them after my drop-off and this time the situation was more dire.
A woman stood next to the car waving her arms frantically and I quickly pulled up and convinced them to get in my car where I could get them to a place that was warm, had turkey and cake, and several guys who could help with the mechanical problem. It was impossible for the man to change the tire in the increasing cold with wind gusts up to 75 mph.
I brought the husband, wife and daughter back to the Old Gallery. It was warm, dry and .... just as we arrived, the power in Allenspark and beyond went out and stayed out.
Mike, his nephew and two of his brothers went out to change the tire and it took all of their efforts. Finally, we got everyone warm, tire repaired, family back on the road.
When Mike and I got back to our house, the power was still out. We went to bed and let Liz the dog sleep with us -- crowded but warm.
I call this a Christmas to remember.
-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at email@example.com
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