A Christmas Snowfall

by Rick Kramer-Howe

It was the day of the children’s evening Christmas pageant and the predicted snow was already falling. Just a year previous, in 1947, a record snowfall had buried our Queens, NY neighborhood in 26 wonderful inches of snow. This time the City was ready! Travel by car was proscribed. I was going to have to walk over a mile through the snow to our Community Church in Jackson Heights. I was a “city kid,” at 5 ¾ years old and 3 ¾ feet tall. This would be an adventure!

School was out for both me and my dad, a high school teacher. He agreed to “walk me” to the church pageant that evening. This would be a special time with my usually busy dad. I put on my snowsuit, buckled my rubber coated galoshes, and my mom checked that the ear lappers of my hat were properly snapped. Dad carried the few items that would complete my shepherd-costume. He wore a heavy overcoat over his suit; on his head a fedora. And off we went.

The snow was already a few inches deep. No moving vehicles were seen. Few planes were stirring at LaGuardia Airport a few blocks away, as the predicted snow piled up. What little airplane noise I heard was muffled both by the falling snow and by the snowy blanket on the ground. In my memory there are no people, no cars, no wind, just my dad and I walking down a long street with falling snow lit by the regularly spaced street lights. We didn’t talk much. I was in another world – and with my dad!

We soon arrived at church. I felt no fatigue from our walk through the snow. A modest-sized congregation was gathering. I got properly fitted into my very brown shepherd’s costume. I had no speaking part in the presentation of the Christmas story and I don’t remember any details. BUT, I do remember how brilliantly lit part of the staging was, in glistening whites and gold. Most of all I remember the two 5-year old angels: the beautiful Sally Masterson and her even more beautiful companion angel (whose name I never learned). They were totally enchanting – clothed in brightest white, graced with sparkling wings.

I have no memory of how the evening ended. The snow-tunnels and forts, which followed the 19-inch snowfall in the succeeding days, blend in with the memories of the snow-tunnels and forts of the previous year. I do keep myself vulnerable to being enchanted by the wonder and mystery of the Christmas stories, and as many of you know, I love to sing of those stories – most anytime.

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