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Dad in the Box

The Long Way Home

John Christmann

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 • 9:34am


‘Twas a week before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring . . .

not even my teenage son who was supposed to be home.

He had left the house earlier in the evening during a delightfully soft and thick December snowfall to drive his girl friend home.  They had been camped at our house most of the day innocently studying together for finals. 

She joined us for dinner.

At 10 PM they left.  She lives close by.  I cautioned my son to be careful driving in the snow. 

And mom in her ‘kerchief and I in my sweats, had just settled down . . .

on the sofa with a glass of wine relaxing absently to the snaps and hiss of a contented fire, blissfully lost in the holiday season.

When out from the kitchen there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the couch to . . .

answer the telephone. It was the girl’s parents wanting to know if their daughter was still with us.   They could not get a hold of her.   She was not picking up her cell phone.  This was not like her they said.  They just wanted to be sure she was OK.

I blinked.  It was now midnight.  I had drifted to sleep on the couch. 

Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and . . .

looked frantically outside.  The street was eerily quiet and thick with snow.  The plows had yet to make their rounds.  The faint tire impressions departing our driveway were filled with snow, patiently waiting for a set of returning tracks.

The night was now brilliantly crisp and star sparkled.

The moon on the breast of new fallen snow, gave a lustre of midday . . .

to the fingers of my hand which were rapidly dialing my son’s cell phone and sending urgent text messages.   There was no response. 

His cell phone was off. 

More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came and I whistled and shouted and called them . . .

a lot of colorful names for being irresponsible teenagers who had no doubt turned off their phones so they could have some untethered time alone together on a beautiful snow covered night unaware that their parents had frantically called the police and nearby hospitals worried that their kids might have skidded off the road and piled into a ditch somewhere only to be informed that nothing of the sort had happened.

So without a better plan, I left the house at 12:30 in the morning to search for them.

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall . . .

my eyes scanned the quiet, snow carpeted residential streets twinkling calmly with the colorful reflections of house-trimmed Christmas lights.  I was looking for a familiar car with fogged windows most likely parked inconspicuously near her home.

I was a teenager with a girlfriend once too.

As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the  . . .

street and into her driveway rumbled our family car safely carrying two oblivious teenagers singularly engaged in what all teenagers engage in.  Themselves.

Their eyes how they twinkled, their smiles how merry, their cheeks were like roses . . .

and I didn’t really want to dwell any more on that subject.  They were safe and they were at her house.  That was all I needed to know.

So I returned home anxiously amused that my son had to face her parents.

As leaves before a wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle . . .

that’s usually when teenagers turn their cell phones back on. 

When there is trouble.

As I pulled into our garage I received a sheepish text message from my son who had spent the past fifteen minutes profusely apologizing to his girl friend’s parents and was now heading back home at one o’clock in the morning.

I am so sorry, the text message read. 

I hoped he had been a little more explicit to her parents.

A wink of my eye and a twist of my head, soon gave him to know he had . .  .

another serious lecture coming his way. We talked of responsibility, communication, consideration, and good will toward men—especially father-type men who are justifiably protective of their teenage daughters in the company of teenage boys.

And then I asked him what happened.

Outside a hemlock frosted with snow glowed preciously in the moonlight.  Tomorrow, once the wind cleared its boughs, it would be just another tree in the yard.

It is Christmas, he said.

And I heard him explain ere he drove out of sight . . .

We took the long way home. 

And I kissed her good night.










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