|Front porch TODAY|
Well, it was not entirely shoeless, but it was a Christmas when shoes took center stage. Not Cinderella slippers, or ballet flats, or snow boots, just ordinary shoes.
Three years or so ago, my husband and I decided at the very last minute that we should travel to see our families for the holidays. He was concerned about his parents, they were getting up there in years and had sounded depressed over the phone. So......we decided to bite the bullet and go. This was TWO DAYS before Christmas Eve. We told the kids (they didn't believe us at first), loaded the car with the presents, even purchased and stuffed a cheap artificial Christmas tree into the back (my in-laws had given up putting up a tree several years before, so we took one with us). We made arrangements for our pets, then all seven of us crammed ourselves into our Suburban (winter traveling is much bulkier due to the coats, etc.) and we left at dawn, the day before Christmas Eve.
Travelling is slower in such a large group, and it's a long drive (18 hours or more), so we spend the night somewhere along the way. We were hoping to make it to Nashville. Everything started off well. The kids dozed off. About 3 or 4 hours in, we stopped at a gas station to refill the car and stretch our legs. As we were getting out of the car, youngest son (8 years old or so) informed us that he had NO SHOES. Not in his suitcase, not in the car, and certainly not on his feet. I had not realized that shoes were forgettable when going on a long journey. I had made sure they had packed a toothbrush, undies, etc. but I did not know that I should have looked at their FEET before they got into the car.
|By the front door TODAY|
So I had the next brother up go into the gas station and use the facilities and then return to the car, loaning his pair of sneakers to little brother. (This brother had only brought one pair of shoes -- the ones he was wearing.) Little brother took his turn, slipping his socked toes into the borrowed shoes. Meanwhile, even though we were on the interstate, not near any town that I could see, miraculously there was a Goodwill store next door (Goodwill is a thrift store). I ran over there to survey their shoe selection: one pair of sneakers in the appropriate size. I bought them and brought them back to the car. Pshew!! Crisis averted!
Once we crossed the border from Texas into Arkansas the weather took a turn for the worse. In fact, it poured rain torrentially on us the entire drive across the state -- we must have been moving at the same speed as the storm. My husband had to drive very carefully, and once it got dark, visibility fell to almost zero, which was very scary because the water was right up to the road's edge and you couldn't see if the road had been flooded or not. It was EXHAUSTING!
There was no way we could make it to Nashville; we barely made it to Memphis. My husband had a close friend who lived about an hour away and he and his family invited us to spend the night with them. So our family of seven descended upon their family of seven! (A side note here: people with a lot of kids are better able to handle other people who have lots of kids -- the more the merrier, you might say. I think that being in a large family may make you by necessity more flexible :) His thoughtful wife made a big pot of spaghetti to warm us up. We ate, and while we figured out where everyone could sleep, the boys (theirs and ours) went outside to play. Well, it had been raining there all day too, and number four child (the son who had loaned his only pair of shoes to little brother earlier) slipped in the mud and his shoes were totally ruined!
|By the garage door TODAY|
The next day -- which was Christmas Eve -- we left our friends' home and set out, looking for a place to buy some shoes. Finally we came to a town that had a Payless shoe store visible from the road. We pulled off, my son walked in with his socked feet, and found a pair of shoes, which we promptly purchased, thanking the store clerk profusely for being open this Christmas Eve. Second shoe crisis averted (or at least dealt with)!
The rest of the day was a race against the clock since we were several hours behind schedule. Our goal was to get to my dad's in time for his Christmas Eve gathering, and then to head on to my in-laws'. Once we had gotten on the road I started worrying "What if my mom is planning to surprise visit US for Christmas?" So I had called my sister to make sure that wasn't happening. She was the only one who knew we were coming.
We pulled into my dad's yard late, but everyone was still there. We popped out of the car and walked in. "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!" The funniest thing was my dad's reaction. He was sitting at the table eating his Christmas goodies and he did not act a bit surprised. He took it all in stride, as if I walked into his kitchen and sat down every day of the week. It was good to see everybody, even though we couldn't linger too long.
After an hour or so, we left for the last 45 minutes of our journey. We got to my in-laws, knocked on the front door, and began to sing. I can't remember for sure, but it was probably "We wish you a Merry Christmas!" My mother-in-law came to the door, and she was so surprised and happy. My father-in-law's reaction was harder to read: it was more like "Oh, no! There goes my peaceful and quiet Christmas!"
|Also on front porch TODAY|
Anyway, we pulled the tree out, unloaded the presents, and the army tramped into the house. At this point, Son Number Two (who was about 15 at this time), and whose wardrobe this entire traveling time had consisted of pajama pants and T-shirts and slippers, confessed that he had brought no other shoes with him except for the said slippers! I was flabbergasted! Three sons with no shoes?! We were going to be there a week! And sometimes it snows! Lucky for him, this particular trip it did not snow and he just wore his slippers the entire vacation.
As you can see from the photos, there is no shortage of shoes in my house. They are piled on my front porch, in the garage, in corners, under the beds, some are even in the closets where they actually belong. This is partly why I could not believe that none of these shoes made it into the car for our trip. What was in those suitcases, anyway? There is no real moral to the story. I just want to remember the Christmas of no shoes......
|In the closet TODAY|