2017
two thousand seventeen
Twenty-Seventeen
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OUT OF MY HEAD
By John Addyman

   Snow days.
   My wife has to drive to work, and that means she has to be able to get her car out of garage, down the driveway, and out into the street.
   Which is why, on the morning after a night’s snow, I’m out shoveling or blowing snow at 7 a.m. I start out in the dark, and the sky gets lighter as I work.


That’s what I was doing one morning last week when a young woman appeared out of the blowing storm, walking her dog. I’d been out there in the elements for awhile, so I was covered with snow, head to toe.
   As she walked by, I asked her, “Do you think we’ll have a white Christmas?’
   She laughed. A few seconds and 50 feet away later, I heard her repeat, “White Christmas?!”
   “Do you think we’ll have a white Fourth of July?” I called after her.
   She lifted up her hands as if to say, “Who knows?”
   Folks who are not fortunate enough to live in Wayne County have no idea, of course, what I’m talking about.
   My daughter, who lives in Canandaigua, was surprised at how much snow we have. Go nine miles south of Newark and folks have – what? – three inches of snow? They are snow-poor.
  We, on the other hands, are blessed with the white stuff. I figure we’ve seen about three feet of it in Newark, and I know others in the county have been blessed even more than we have.
  My friend Jim Aberts in Pennsylvania Dutch country sent me a note on Monday night: “They say we may get some snow on Saturday. Only had a light dusting so far this season. I'm told that most of it went to Newark, NY.”
   I told Jim that yes, I’d seen a lot of snowflakes with his name on them.  
   Other than shoveling all this snow, I’m really enjoying it. Some of my favorite Christmas memories are snow-filled.
   We lived in Altamont, NY (near Albany) for eight years. Our little church, St. Lucy’s, sponsored a pot-luck family dinner on Christmas eve, and it was a great way to slow down and enjoy the holiday. One Christmas eve, we got a good snowstorm that started right after dinner. We walked to midnight mass in the snow, and when we came out, another inch or two had fallen. With all the lights from neighbors’ homes sparkling up and down the street, it was a gorgeous scene.
   One of those Christmases that we lived in Altamont I took our kids to get the Christmas tree. We visited a place on the side of the Helderberg Mountains. We found a great tree, and I left two of the kids there to guard it, while I took the youngest daughter back with me to the wood shed where the owner and his wife were sitting next to a fire – a distance of about 100 yards. Just as we got there, a snow squall hit – you couldn’t see 30 feet.
   The owner got on his tractor and set out to find the tree we’d picked out – and my kids. A fairly nervous 15 minutes later, he returned with my kids riding on the tractor with him – and the tree on his wagon. We heard the tractor coming through the squall before we saw it. My kids, of course, thought it was one great adventure.  And the daughter I’d carried back to the shed was mad because she didn’t get to ride on the tractor.
   Even though folks in Wayne County know how to deal with snow, that still doesn’t mean it doesn’t drive a few of us crazy. I think some folks have a “hunker down” philosophy when the white stuff is coming at us in six-inch increments.
   For instance, I went to Walmart last week in the midst of one of those days when the snow gods couldn’t stop lathering us with a fluffy covering. There were exactly four cars in the parking lot: mine was the fifth. The store was so empty, I kept running into Walmart associates who asked me if I was looking for something and needed help – when you’re the only guy in a whole section of the store, you get lots of assistance.
   I had so many associates come up to me, I felt on the top of my head to see if I’d worn some kind of flashing red light. Despite Walmart’s reputation, everyone who asked if I needed help was courteous and seemed genuinely interested in helping me.
   Tuesday, I was back in the store for five minutes. The parking lot was packed. Aisles that were empty last week were now piled high with toys and impulse-buy products. The associates were so busy moving stuff around, not one of them stopped to ask me if I needed help. I asked the nice checkout lady how it was going.
   “It’s crazy,” she said. I have to wonder what the next few days will be like in that store.
   But for me, well, mu Christmas shopping is done.
   I’m not a mall guy. I’m an on-line guy, but I believe in shopping locally when I can. So I have been out and about.
   The most pleasant experience I had was at Dobbins Drugs in Lyons. My wife had heard good things about it and told me to stop in. I spent a solid hour in there, and everywhere I turned I found something else I liked. Everyone was pleasant and went out of their way to be helpful. I was even able to dicker on something I wanted. Loved that. It’s stores like Dobbins that will lead a downtown renewal in Lyons and hopefully, Newark and Clyde and Savannah and Wolcott…
   For the next few days, I’m going to bake, listen to Christmas music, play with my grandkids, and enjoy some quiet time with my wife.
   I hope your holiday runs along similar lines.
   And if we get more snow…I’ll be shoveling.
   Merry Christmas, one and all!
   

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