Not bad for a fat girl


Why A Charlie Brown Christmas Made Me Cry

448e9b06a903fbbbc1b40cf165ce75b2So A Charlie Brown Christmas is 50 years old. It’s just a few months older than I am. Last night there was a lovely t.v. special about its history, followed by the show itself, so naturally I watched, being the Christmas fan that I am.

Now normally this particular show doesn’t make me cry. Oh sure, it tugs at the old heartstrings, but crying? Nope, not for this one. Until last night.

For some reason, when they were talking about some of the music and showing a scene of Charlie Brown and Linus walking down the street at night, it hit me. I was transported back to the winter of my childhood, and my own snowy street at night. My companion, however, was my father.

Most of my winter memories are of freezing cold, gloom, and inconvenience. I’m not a fan of winter weather, even a little. But last night, something shifted. As I watched those animated snowflakes fall, I remembered what it was like to go for a walk with my father in the winter, moonlight reflecting off the snow. I remembered the stillness, and the chill on my face. I remember him holding my mittened hand in his gloved one. I remembered the feeling that we were the only two people on Earth, and how much I liked that. I remembered the warm glow from the windows of our neighbors houses, and the fun of running ahead a few feet and sliding. I remembered snow angels.

I remembered that my childhood was full of simple, yet magical moments, and that I was loved. A few minutes of A Charlie Brown Christmas dislodged those memories from whatever deep freeze was holding them, and for that I’m grateful.


Cold Snap

1425064638828Buffalo, New York is famous for the Blizzard of ’77, a huge January storm that practically shut down the city for several days. I remember how eerie it was to accompany my father to visit his hospital patients, driving through deserted streets as a result of the driving ban. Physicians visiting patients were exempt.

Although I was only ten years old, I was starting to develop a case of cabin fever, so I begged to go with him. Before we pulled out of the driveway, my father loaded the car with blankets and a box of Bit-o-Honey candy bars, just in case. It was by no means the first time that city was hit with nasty winter weather, though.

In the winter of 1975, a freak ice storm wrecked havoc on our community, damaging power lines and cutting off heat to thousands of homes. On our street, the odd numbered houses lost power while the even numbers stayed connected. It was not a good week to live at number 199.

Not my street, but you get the idea.

Not my street, but you get the idea.

The first night was the worst. Everything outside was in a deep freeze, and the temperature in our Depression-era house kept plunging. All winter long, our golden retriever Pucci slept on my bed protecting me from the chill of the uninsulated outside wall. With the power out, however, even Pucci’s heat couldn’t keep me warm. Not only did I have my Oma’s featherbed from Germany on top of my Hudson Bay blanket, I was wearing long underwear and a ski jacket, along with down mittens and a green and gold striped woolen cap to bed. Oh, and a nightgown and socks, three pairs to be exact. I looked something like a cross between a deranged Pippi Longstocking and a nine-year-old bag lady lost in the Arctic.

Somehow we got through the night, but the situation in the morning wasn’t much better. Cereal, milk, and fruit were fine for breakfast, but there was no power for cooking, and driving anywhere was out of the question.

My father made a fire in the living room, but it really didn’t give off that much heat, unless you were sitting practically on the hearth. I soon grew restless, and I imagine I drove my mother nuts. She made a quick call, then threw some things in a bag for me and took my mittened hand as we slipped and slid across the street and down the block to my classmate’s warm house. She left me there for three days, until our power was restored.

I guess my older brother handled the cold better, because he got to stay home with my parents, but at least I was warm. Still, I was relieved to finally go home and sleep in my own bed, minus my ridiculous ski attire




photo credit Derek Gee

photo credit Derek Gee

Poor, poor Buffalo. No matter how many great things happen in and around that city, it will always be located exactly where it is, and that particular spot on the planet happens to be a perfect place for snow.

My Buffalo connections downplay the role that weather has on the region, but I think they only do it as a coping mechanism. After all, they can’t ALL leave the area, can they? Someone has to stay there.

And there are many good reasons to stay there. It has the nickname “the city of good neighbors” for a reason. People in Buffalo help each other out, just because that’s what you do. Especially under difficult conditions, like during snowstorms.

Buffalo is also affordable. Considering you have to pay New York State taxes when you live there, it’s still a good deal. And let’s face it, those tax dollars are used for things like education. Just saying.

Buffalo also has a lot to offer. Honestly, a ton of options await anyone with a desire to get up and do something. There’s theater, concerts, sports, family events, museums, festivals, and more. The local paper publishes a separate section each weekend just so you can keep track of everything going on. And if you like to eat and drink, well, Buffalo has something wonderful for every taste and budget.

The city’s history provides an interesting backdrop for its architecture, landscapes, and neighborhoods. Garden walks are popular, and so are tours of historic old buildings, like Buffalo City Hall.  While the city is ever-changing, it holds on to its hard-working, hard-playing traditions.

If you want to visit a place with loyal sports fans, check out Buffalo. If you want to celebrate Dyngus Day or the feast of St. Joseph, Buffalo’s your place. If you want to enjoy great outdoor concerts for free all summer long, head to Buffalo.

In case you weren’t sure, I love Buffalo. I just wish the weather was a little warmer, sunnier, and dryer. Oh, and a little less snow would be nice too.