Favorite holiday moment of all time: I was away at college in about 1982, but determined to make it home for the holidays. In the dead of winter, I set out hitchhiking from the Sacramento area to the Eastern Sierra, a distance of more than 250 miles. In what turned out to be a full day of standing on the roadside, getting short rides, more standing on the roadside, etc., I finally reached my Cowboy Dad’s house in the mountains at about 8 p.m. — 12 hours later.
The last ride had been an endless, freezing two hours hunched up inside my coat IN THE BACK OF A PICKUP. If you look up “chilled to the bone” in the encyclopedia, there will be a picture of me as I crawled over the side of the truck bed and landed on the street. I was so cold I could barely make my hands grip, so cold I was no longer even shivering.
I walked two blocks to Dan’s (Dad’s) house, climbed the stairs on knees so stiff I had trouble bending them, and knocked on the door. He opened it and ushered me in, instantly seeing I was near-frozen. He said “Go right into the bathroom and fill the tub up with hot water. Sit in it for a while.”
Through stiff lips, I said “Just let me sit here for a bit.” He was adamant: “No, get in there and fill the tub up with hot water and get into it. We’ll talk when you come out.”
I did what he said. Spent about an hour in luxurious hot water, and it was unbelievable how great it felt.
I will love him forever for so many things, but that was one of the REALLY good ones. Wish he was here so I could tell him one more time: I was so, so lucky to have you in my life. Merry Christmas, Old Man.
And happy holidays to all the rest of you. If you have somebody like this in your life, TELL THEM what they mean to you.