This is the first time since...ah...about 1972... that I won't be "home for Christmas". The trek from Madison to the Fox Valley is just too much for me to handle at my advanced age. What would normally take about an hour and three-quarters on dry pavement would be three or four hours of hell-on-ice-and-snow at 35 or 40 miles an hour to get there, spend a few hours, and then do it all over again.
We knew we wouldn't be making the trip since Monday, when the weather mavens said we were in for a double-whammy of snowfalls, on Tuesday and Wednesday, and damn if they weren't right again. It's been snowing to beat the band since 3 this morning and likely won't let up until about 4 this afternoon. I called my sister last night and said we wouldn't be making the trip. She's the family Christmas hostess this year.
Last weekend, we went down to Hammond, IN to visit my wife's family for an "early Christmas". Under the rules, easements, and codicils to Marriage 2.0, we "rotate" spending the 24th/25th with my family and my wife's family. This year was "my" year...and it ain't gonna happen. That trip back up to Madison Sunday was probably the second-worst driving trip I've ever had to make. Normally we'd circumnavigate Chicago on the Tri-State Tollway, then take the NorthWest Tollway up through Rockford and on to Madison. Not this year!
When we woke up Sunday morning, it was five below with a wind chill of 30 below in Hammond. The Chicago weather mavens had a BLIZZARD warning out for the Rockford area....a half-foot of powdery snow Saturday afernoon, and 30-to-40-mile-an-hour wind from the west Sunday - official blizzard conditions. We decided to take the Borman Expressway to the Tri-State, and then just stay on I-94 to Milwaukee, and then make our westward swing to Madison.
It was the right decision, but it was an unforgettable trip. Cars sliding off the road in front of us all along the Tri-State; idiots doing 60 when prudent speed was 35; and the stretch between the Lake Forest Oasis and Milwaukee was sheer hell - white-outs every couple miles and five below zero with howling wind from the west, blowing our fairly large SUV cross-ways constantly. With five people and our dog aboard, it was five hours of just-about-terror.
So, no thanks to another six or seven hours of that, today. That's the bad news. But the good news is, for the first time in our marriage, all of us will be at OUR home on Christmas, and that is a blessing. We'll go up and visit my mom some weekend when it's NOT snowing and blowing like crazy. And the best part of it is....she'd be a nervous wreck if we tried to drive it today - in full mom mode even at age 81 - so, the disappointment of not being there is mitigated by the love and understanding on the other end.