Christmas Cancelled

Christmas Cancelled

Photo Credit: Uta Scholl, Unsplash

How I spent my holidays during a blizzard

Kiera Quinlivan, Contributor

“There’s going to be a blizzard on Friday,” my mom said as I slid into the car. I replied with “okay,” and turned on the radio. After a long fall semester, I was happy to come home to a warm bed and warm food. Four days later, all I could think about was the cold.

Buffalo’s no stranger to blizzards; sudden snow storms are part of life. Oftentimes, cold air fronts pass over Lake Erie, condensing evaporated lake water into the snow and depositing it along the lakeshore, a phenomenon known as the lake effect. For us, a ‘once-in-a-century’ blizzard is more often a ‘once-a-winter’ event, so it’s no surprise that I, like many other people, shrugged off this latest storm. At 9 am on December 23rd, the blizzard hit, determined to show me just how wrong I was.

My Friday began as it usually does during a blizzard. My mom and I watched Christmas movies and baked, indifferent to the harsh winds rattling our windows. Then, we started getting texts from our friends, asking if we still had power. At 6 pm, our neighbour called to ask if he could stay the night at our house. He had lost power, and the temperature in his home had dropped below freezing. An hour later, my dad returned home and told us that four-foot drifts had walled our neighbourhood off from the rest of the city. At 9 pm, we lost power, and our entire house went dark. 

The next morning, a sombre mood had fallen over us. Our cement floors had retained some heat and my mom was cooking food on our gas stove, but we ate in relative silence, our attention fixed on our old transistor radio broadcasting storm updates. Bundled up in layers of coats, I felt like a stranger in my living room. We ate our would-be Christmas dinner under the dim glow of flashlights. Miraculously, our power was restored, and I went to bed thinking that the worst had passed.

I woke up cold, and my heart sank when I realised that our power had gone out again. Without the heat from our floors, our house was getting much colder, much faster. Still, my dad insisted that we open presents on Christmas, and I discovered that some things stayed the same even in a blizzard: my parents still had no clue what my brother wanted for Christmas. That night, as we huddled around the radio while it played the same three Christmas songs it had all day, the room was suddenly filled with a flood of light. Rushing to the window, I could finally see the city lights glow again. 

It took several days for the city to return to normal, and for many, their lives will never be normal after the loss of a loved one. For all the things the blizzard threw at me, I’m grateful that everyone I know is safe, and even in the cold, my family was there to keep me warm.