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My Most Memorable Christmas


Over the years, I have had some wonderful Christmas memories, from the time Santa  visited a family reunion when I was a kid, to our holiday visit to Italy as an adult, to seeing Christmas through a child’s eyes with my own daughter.  However, the most memorable Christmas was the year when we almost spent the holiday in our car on Interstate 40.

My husband and I don’t live near our families. Over the years, it has worked best to spend Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas with mine. We live in Colorado and my family is in Kentucky, about 1600 miles away. We usually fly, but if the airlines are too pricey, we don’t care to drive. If you have enough time, road trips can be really fun.

About ten years ago, we were in the midst of driving across the country, when we  hit frigid temperatures and an ice storm in Arkansas. If you’ve never experienced winter weather in the Southern US, it works like this:

  • It usually isn’t cold enough to last long, so they just wait until it melts. Why bother the plows?
  • Everyone stays home until it melts. No one expects anything different.
  • Arkansas seems to have only two snow plows in the entire state, (see rule 1) ,and they are white, the color of snow!

Needless to say, we weren’t going anywhere fast. We  crept into Conway, AR, which  is about 40 miles West of Little Rock. The highway was closed there, at least in the eastbound direction. We stopped at every motel, only to hear the same thing, “No vacancy.” I finally asked one clerk if she knew of anywhere that had rooms for the night. Her reply,

“I think the Knights of Columbus Hall is setting up cots.”

We considered sleeping in our car, but  it was below zero, so that would have been a cold night. What are poor stranded travelers to do? We turned around and headed back toward the west, about 80 miles, until we found the crappiest motel ever, but it had a room, with a bed and running water, luxuries at this point!

One of our favorite things to do on a road trip is to stop and eat in restaurants that we don’t have in our rural area. We were afraid to stop that day because of the ice, so we ended up having a gourmet dinner of Triscuits and cheese in our lovely room. This was December 23rd.

The next day the road was open, but it was slow going. We probably saw an accident happen twice every half hour. It was like bumper cars at the state fair. It could have almost been funny if it wasn’t your car and your life at stake. It took 8 hours to get from Little  Rock to Memphis, normally a two hour drive. We arrived in Memphis late, but found a hotel. I could have put on ice skates and done figure 8’s in the parking lot. We walked/slid over to  a nearby Wendy’s for dinner so we wouldn’t have to drive anymore. So much for trying new dining options. It was Christmas Eve.

The next day we made it back to my parent’s house in Kentucky without  much trouble. The temperature was finally above freezing. We were in time for Christmas dinner and all the festivities. While I would not recommend travel in a Southern ice storm, I did learn many things from that trip.

  • Any bed, no matter how worn down and threadbare, beats a cot or sleeping  in your car.
  • When you haven’t eaten all day, a piece of cheese or greasy fries make a five star meal.
  • There is truly no place like home. After seeing what mother nature can do, we were especially grateful to be with our family for the holidays, even if we were a bit late.

Christmas really isn’t about presents, food, or decorations. For me, it is about spending time with the ones you love, and nothing makes me appreciate this more than remembering the year we almost didn’t make it. That, strangely, is my most memorable Christmas.

This post is one of many from several bloggers who are sharing today. Make sure you visit Tackling Our Debt so you can see what a nice job Sicorra has done with putting this Christmas carnival together.

To make your Christmas better, don’t forget to enter the new giveaway for $100!

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. Thanks for participating, Kim! I hope you have an awesome Christmas this year.

  2. Oh gosh I can’t imagine freezing cold weather in the South. I’ve heard horror stories of one inch of snow in places where it never snows and people are just spinning out left and right. Here in Minnesota it’s a surprise when there isn’t at least a few bigger snowstorms per year, and snow is a regular occurrence. Driving does slow down but people still make it in to work.

  3. I’m so glad I don’t have to drive on icy roads. Just looking at some of the footage on the net is enough for me.

    I had a similar experience in New Zealand where we were unable to find accommodation for the night. We drove around until well into the night until we found this run down old lodge which still had some rooms available. It was cold, smelt funny and the bed looked disgusting, but it is the most memorable of all the places we stayed while we were in NZ.

  4. Sounds like a trip my wife and I had driving through Texas before we had kids. They were having a terrible ice storm and the only people other than us that were on the road were truckers. Our family is all far from us, so it’s usually similar to yours. However, this year, they’re all coming to us. I am going to do my best and not go all Clark Griswold on them. 🙂

  5. I know exactly how that cold feels. Thankfully you were safe and made it to your parents by Christmas.

  6. Our family is all local so we drive typically 25 miles one way or another to get to the big celebrations, but my wife has always wished that one year we have a massive snowstorm that keeps everybody in, and then reschedule the big get together later. So far, it hasn’t happened as we’ve been even lucky to have a White Christmas the last couple of years 🙂

  7. Looks like I won’t be complaining about Houston weather in December! Wow…I’m glad you had a happy ending! Thanks for sharing your memories!

  8. Debt and the Girl

    Wow, that is a quite a story. Glad you made it okay. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I have never been a fan of road trips, but the memories are great. We took one to Lake Mead and rented a houseboat. It remided me of the movie Vacation. It was agreat bonding time for family and friends.

    • We’ve gotten to see some really fun, unexpected things on road trips including getting stuck in a sheep drive and the breaking down on the side of the road in East Tennessee and waiting for Bubba, the tow truck driver.

  10. Great story — I love how it ended 🙂

  11. Great story ! What a pain, but I’m glad you got there finally, and safely!!

  12. What a story. I can relate to the cold temperatures you would have had since I live in Canada. I am glad you finally arrived safe. We did lots of road trips going up and they were all fantastic. I wouldn’t change them for anything.

    • Oddly, I wouldn’t trade that trip either. If we’d wiped out our car, maybe, but since we made it safe it’s just a fun memory now.

  13. People in the north always find it funny when southern states suspend class for an inch of snow. Up here we’d never be able to get anything done if we canceled for anything less than 5 or 6 inches.
    I’m glad that you made it safely. Driving through icy conditions is the pits.

    • I’ve really come full circle, as I often have to drive over Lizard Head Pass in huge snowstorms. In Telluride, the rule for dismissing school is 2 ft in 24 hours, a bit more strict than in KY.

  14. Isn’t it funny that the road trip was a pain in the ass but it’s the one you remember? We drove to my parents house in a blizzard for Christmas one year. A three hour drive took seven. Cheryl and I talked the whole time and listened to music. It might have been my favorite drive ever!

    • You do get pretty close when you’re stuck in a car together for 8hrs. We were on lookout for skidding cars, a true bonding experience.

  15. I love road trips as well, except when things go wrong. I had horrible road trip experience my first trip to Disney, car trouble, not snow, absolutely awful. Glad you made it for Christmas. And, you’re correct, Southerners go absolutely NUTS when 3 snowflakes fall. I live in North MS, it’s insane. Roads close, businesses close, schools close… we have a Snow Party 🙂
    Enjoyed your post, so glad to be part of the carnival! Following you now on twitter.

    • We got out so many days of school just on the chance of snow, even when nothing ever came. Funny those Southerners and our snow days.

  16. I think as long as you’re with the people you love, you could be anywhere. This year I was a little sad that we weren’t going to make it home for Christmas, but we’re bringing the family to us, so that’s all that matters. Glad you made it to your folks safe and sound.

  17. Glad you made it in the end. The Christmas I will always remember most is probably the one I remember least. I broke a tooth on Christmas Eve and managed to get it immediately infected. Of course no dentists are open then, so I had to go to the emergency room to get some super-powerful narcotic pain reliever that turned me into a drooling idiot for Christmas day.

  18. What a memorable Christmas indeed! When you described the creepy motel I had a similar flashback to a few I’ve stayed in the past.

    Your story sounds like its straight out of a movie.

  19. What a memorable Christmas! Glad you and your family are safe though! Ice storms are scary, combined with people who act like fools when the weather is bad and you have a recipe for disaster!

    • You’d think it would be common sense to not slam on your brakes in an ice storm, but I guess it’s reflex if you aren’t used to driving in weather.

  20. Great story! Happy to be participating in the party with you!! Hope you have a great one this year too!

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