IS IT A PLANE?! IS IT A TRAIN?!


When I was nine years old, I had an epiphany it was going to snow at Christmas. During Show and Tell, I marched boldly to the front of the class and shared with the other first graders that I knew there would be a miracle on Christmas day.

I decided to double-check with God. I wanted to make sure He was on board with my inspiration. Because, I mean, I was putting my reputation on the line with this gig. Besides, I had placed a large bet on myself.

I could see the pain in my mother's eyes when I first told her it would snow. It was that mother face of both fear and endearment. I think my mother started praying it would snow. Then again, she may have been praying I wouldn't be too disappointed.

So here's the thing. Every night I would say to God, "If it's going to snow, let me hear a train first. Just to make sure He was listening, I would mix it up. "If it's going to snow, let me hear a plane first." (We lived close to the Southern Pacific Railway and Luke Airforce Base wasn't far away, so my sister and I could hear both of these at night from our open bedroom window.) Every single night from August on, God said, "Yes, Cheryl, it's going to snow on Christmas."

Christmas arrived and ... it was 70 degrees and sunny. My mother said, Honey, I'm so sorry it didn't snow. I looked up from my book and smiled that front-teeth-gone-gapping-smile and said, "Hmmm, I must have got the wrong Christmas."

In 1976, I traveled with my first husband to Ohio to meet his family. My husband said it would be snowing and that Chagrin Falls was a storybook town. I was so excited!

My mother in law added her name to the bad mothers-in-law list. Esther took an instant disliking to me and expressed it openly at Christmas Eve in front of her 3 other grown boys and her husband at the dining room table. I stared at her, and in my mind, though humiliated, thought, "Bring it on."

My husband apologized for her. Her husband apologized for her and even hugged me. The phone rang, and Esther answered it in her Icelandic-Aristrocatic-Heiress-to-the-Richest-Man-in-Iceland voice. She entered the living room where my husband and I were having a drink and announced my mother was on the phone.

"Hi, Mom! It's snowing here!" I said heartily to hide my tears. I was already homesick. She said, "Cheryl, guess what?" "What? I whispered. "It's snowing in Arizona!"

I inhaled sharply. "See, Mommy, I told you I had the wrong Christmas!"

You see, we just had the wrong year last year. This year, God will send both a plane and a train. Expect it!

Happy New Year!

Cheryl


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