Get our newsletters

By the Way: A cold, cold Christmas


Christmas 2022 will be remembered by generations of Bucks Countians as that one when the mercury sank to 3 degrees (at least at our house) and we had no internet service, no television, no landline. We did have a smattering of snow.

For those in other parts of the country the Blizzard of 2022 will surely supplant our ancestors’ Blizzard of 1896.

Fortunately, we did not lose power during this storm but the high winds knocked down a tall tree and dropped its heavy branches within inches of our house.

I’ll tend to think of this year as the tale of two trees, one fallen, one harvested.

We will recall it, too, as the year the temperature dropped 24 degrees on Dec. 23 as we traveled the 70 miles home from Newark Airport. We had collected our daughter and son-in-law after their flying in from San Antonio, a flight fortunately not among the hundreds canceled.

We were lucky. We saw only one accident and that involved vehicles headed in the other direction. If Route 78 iced up, it did so after we had turned off into country roads which were basically dry.

Eagles fans, like my husband, and Vikings fans, like my South Dakota-born son-in-law, having to forego watching the separate games on television on Saturday, could only check the scores on their phones: Philadelphia Eagles down to the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings defeating the New York Giants.

My husband and I had done the holiday preliminaries: chopped down a Norway spruce on a nearby farm, brought it into the house before the rain, standing ready for decorations when our daughter would drape the lights over the branches and hanging ornaments, some of them treasured handmade ones crafted in kindergarten and elementary school, all happy reminders Christmases past.

This was an alternate year for us when the four of us would share our Christmas dinner, a fairly elegant and adult affair, with my two bachelor nephews. It would be the calm before the storm.

Our son, his wife and their two sons, 13 and 8, were in Maryland with in-laws but would arrive later in the week with their mini Labradoodle, Daisy, for a second feast, a raucous tearing apart of wrapped gifts, shrieks of delight, a general sense of chaos and an intensive, traumatic terrorizing of our cat, Delilah.

The two ladies do not get along, Delilah is not dog-friendly and Daisy is not cat-friendly. It is unlikely they will modify their behavior,

I would not miss this annual festivity for the world, and yet, I know ours is a Christmas like that celebrated by so many other families and basically unremarkable for its similarity. We all have our little traditions.

But what is remarkable is that the holiday creates change. The days around Christmas are cloaked with love and kindness, strangers speaking to each other, often sharing exasperations and smiles.

And who among us, believer or non-believer, has not stood outside on a crisp and starry Christmas Eve or Christmas night and listened to the quiet?

Certainly not during this deep-freeze year, but other years when, for at least one night, the world seemed at peace.

Acknowledging the fact that most people have already reached their destinations and are inside, I tell my practical self that special silence could be just the lack of traffic.

But my soul-searching spiritual self believes it is so much more than that.

Kathryn Finegan Clark is a freelance writer who lives in Kintnersville. She can be reached at

Clark Christmas t

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.