The Christmas Blizzard of 2009 will long be remembered.
Twenty six inches of snow in three days. One house. Me. Two kids. One dog. One cat. One set of stranded grandparents. One cranky husband. Does this sound like a recipe for disaster or what? Officially, I know I have been stuck in the house way too long when the aforementioned husband suggests we run to Walmart as it is the only store in town open, and I jump at the chance. And I do literally mean that I jumped out of the recliner chair where serious body imprints were beginning to form.
Six to eight foot drifts of snow be darned, I needed to get out of my house before someone got hurt.
We grabbed a shovel and Walmart bound we were. We didn't let the abandoned cars on the way put a damper on things. Obviously, anyone out in a minivan or a small car in a blizzard deserves to be stuck.
Walmart appeared to only have a limited number of employees working and
well over 500 shoppers by my estimate. The lines were the length of the store and people looked panicky. After 20 minutes of wandering around, I suggested we leave as I did not want to get caught in a criminal activity gone bad from a person unable to wait patiently any longer for a carton of milk. Driving carefully, we returned home and reflected on blizzard behavior.
One thing I have noticed is how the no travel warnings mean nothing to us in North Dakota. Blizzard warnings mean hurry up and get to the grocery store for enough food for a week, especially chips and dip and pizza. It also means rush to the video store for enough movies to not go crazy in case the kids can not get outside to play. The no travel warnings are
really for those " other " people. By this, I mean folks without SUVs or the ones who don't know how to drive in bad weather because they grew up outside the Midwest. Complete closings of highways are harder to deal with, but not impossible. Impossible is keeping everyone in a confined space occupied and out of trouble.
Not going stir crazy or getting cabin fever can be a challenge during a blizzard. My parents, veteran North Dakotans, were able to weather the storm at our house with no problems. They put up with endless games of Scrabble, Rummikub, and acted like they enjoyed watching the kids play Cabela's 2010 Big Game Hunter and Guitar Hero.
My mother, bless her heart, came prepared by bring an extra ham, Christmas cookies, lefse, cranberry salad, and Chex party mix. If I had to be stuck indoors due to another storm, my parents would be my first choice for companions. They
didn't even mind me escaping with a book to my bedroom several times a day to just sit and read by myself while they entertained the kids.
However, even with a great family, by day three when the sun starting shining, we knew it was time to get moving. My husband, daughter, father, and neighbors on both sides all pitched in and the snow drifts in front of the garage were moved into the yard after several hours of hard labor.
I stayed inside to supervise the fifth consecutive meal of ham sandwiches and leftover Christmas Day salads. Stay warm and enjoy the winter.
(Eileen Dolan is one of four community columnists for The Minot Daily News)