I'll be home for Christmas...and the Denver Broncos Game

The next time "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas", it will likely be a nightmare instead of a pleasant thought. I'm a native Coloradan, so snow is good. Snow means good skiing. Snow means days off of school. Snow means snow fights and sledding and snow men. This Christmas, however, snow meant a cancelled flight, some sketchy Greyhound buses, and a long drive through middle America.

The blizzard of 2006 became a reality to me when my flight was cancelled on the morning of December 22nd. The next available flight from New York City to Denver was on December 26th. All flights to all neighboring states were fully booked. Even the Amtrak trains had no seats available.

Missing Christmas was not an option in my mind. In fact, I had to be back for Christmas Eve. Back in August, I had come up with the perfect Christmas gift for my Dad--tickets to the Broncos/Bengals game on Christmas Eve. My brother and I purchased 4 tickets and had been eagerly awaiting the game all season. It was a secret that we had successfully kept for four months. Piles of snow were about to ruin my Christmas.

There MUST be another way home...I MUST make it in time. It dawned on me that I could take a bus. Surely the bus wouldn't be that bad. Leaving New York City at 3:30 PM on Friday and arriving in Denver at 6 AM on Sunday? Two nights spent on a crowded bus? I can handle that...right?

In a Pittsburgh bus station at midnight on Friday, I started to question whether this really was worth the trip. Maybe I should have stayed in New York...maybe this eternal bus ride wasn't the best idea. As I stood in line for my connecting bus, I met some "characters". West Virginia Red Neck (WVRD) was going to Memphis for Christmas. He couldn't wait to get home and spend the day at the pool hall "trying to avoid getting into more trouble with the law". Crimped-hair Blonde was going somewhere in Ohio. She wanted to spend Christmas away from her ex-husband. Truck Driver Joe's truck broke down in Atlanta. He was taking the bus all the way to Colorado Springs so he could be with his wife and son for Christmas. And then there was me--Must-Reach-Denver-For-the-Broncos-Game-Girl.

In Indianapolis, my patience for the bus had reached full capacity. Perhaps it was my bus driver, Crazy Earl (as he called himself), that pushed me over the edge. Perhaps it was the 90 degree, stagnant air that surrounded me on the bus. Perhaps it was the large woman that cut me in line at the bus station and nearly pushed me to the ground. Perhaps it was the thought of spending another full night on the bus. Perhaps it was all of these things. But I got into a cab at the bus station and went to the airport to rent a car and continue my journey by car.

Driving a Ford Taurus never felt so freeing before. As I sped through Indiana and Illinois, I was thankful for every moment that I was no longer subject to the Greyhound bus. I passed through St. Louis...then Kansas City...and then the long, barren, flat, tree-less land known as Kansas. Half-way through Kansas while listening to Jeff Foxworthy's Country Christmas Countdown, I thought to myself, "Why in the world am I doing this? Is it really worth it to make this trip for the game?"

I reached Denver, droopy-eyed, back-aching, head-pounding, and heart-happy at 11 PM Saturday. My Dad picked me up at Hertz, still confused about why I would want to drive all the way to Denver. When we reached home, we presented him with his Christmas gift--four tickets to the Broncos game. Instantly, he understood why I had to make my journey. I had to be home for Christmas...and the Denver Broncos Game.

At the game, we cheered loudly for the team. Our feet froze in the snow. Then our faces and hands froze as snow fell again. Four cold quarters later with 45 seconds left in the game, I had a reason to love the snow again. With my beloved Broncos ahead by one point, the Bengals lined up to kick an extra point. Extra-points are automatic. No one misses extra points. This game is headed to overtime. But then a snowy Christmas miracle occurred. My 1804-mile, 34-hour, cross-country trip was worth the pain it caused when the icy cold snap flew wide, the holder couldn't grasp it, and the Broncos won by one.

If a blizzard arrives for a 2007 white Christmas, you'll find me wearing my Broncos jersey, cheering for the team, drinking a $7 Coors Light...in a bar in New York.

Merry Broncos Christmas to all and to all (especially me) a good night!


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you went got to the game and arrived a whole day earlier!