Christmas Eve traditions have varied over the years in my family, depending on who was hosting, when we were traveling, etc.
One Christmas Eve that stands out in my mind was during my senior year of college. My sister flew to Washington, D.C., from Albuquerque and then we drove down to Norris, Tenn. (it’s near Knoxville), to see our mom. In a snow storm.
Our route took us down I-81 in Virginia — a truck route notorious for its two lanes in each direction through mountains and valleys. As I type this (on 12/19), I-81 is shut down during the current snowstorm due to a traffic accident last night. While it usually offers scenic views, the drive itself isn’t always pretty.
That particular Christmas Eve, the roads were so icy that drivers were taking each bridge one car at a time — there was no telling how your car was going to handle the road conditions. And there were a lot of bridges.
When we made it to Lexington, Va., we stopped for lunch at the Wendy’s there and then continued on our way. Two or three harrowing hours later, after many a dicey ice patch, my sister gasped. She had left her purse at the Wendy’s.
I thought about our options for a minute and said, “Carrie, I love you, but we’re not going back for that purse today.”
When we finally reached Mom’s house, 12 hours after we started the drive (it’s usually seven to eight hours from D.C. to Knoxville), my sister was able to call the Wendy’s. They had found her purse and had it stored behind the counter for when we made the drive back to D.C. a few days later.
Unfortunately, when we did make that drive and stopped by the Wendy’s, the manager with whom we had spoken was not there and the other employees couldn’t find my sister’s purse. Thankfully, she was able to fly back to Albuquerque without its contents (this was pre-2001 and I don’t think IDs were required to fly back then). The Wendy’s manager did mail the purse back to her (after taking the money needed for postage out of her wallet). Everything else seemed to still be there though.