Posted by: Bill Tracy | December 23, 2017

Girls and Boys and White Christmas

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

Just like the ones I used to know

Where the treetops glisten and children listen

To hear sleigh bells in the snow

-Bing Crosby

White Christmas

As another Christmas descends upon our collective psyche, I can’t help thinking back. While the “white Christmas” thing is a persistent mythical longing, it almost never actually happens. At least around here. Not an official flake was recorded for Christmas between 1920 and 1960 in the Philadelphia area. But, once in a while… Last year I wrote about the Christmas of 1966 when I drove through a blizzard on Christmas Eve to be home for the holidays from my Air Force station in Alabama. This year I’m thinking about the snowy Christmas three years earlier.

It was 1963, and I was age 16, soon to be 17. Christmas Eve was a Tuesday. I don’t think I had any great expectations, and having been a very bad boy that year, I deserved no more than coal, if that. The evening was usual for my family, getting the tree into the house and decorated, gift wrapping, preparing food for Christmas day. But this year, we had a guest in the house.

My sister, Kathy, was newly into boys, and a boy had come calling on Christmas Eve. David was from Audubon, a few towns over. I don’t know how they met since they were not school mates. But there he was, posted up in the living room wearing a sport jacket and tie. As the evening wore on, decorations were piled on the tree, and outside, snow began to pile up. That made for a festive mood, but it also raised some concern as David’s father was due to come by and pick him up at a certain point. Snowy roads were more feared in those days of poor-traction bias-ply tires and little road salts. As we watched snow pile up and drift outside our living room’s picture window, the time for Dave’s pickup came and passed. Surely, Dave’s father was just delayed in the snow. Time passed and our focus slowly settled on the expectation of a phone call.

At 15, Kathy had a bed time to observe, even on Christmas Eve. When the time came, she said good night and Merry Christmas to all and went to bed, knowing not the eventual fate of her suitor. That left dad and mom and me to entertain our overtime guest. I don’t know if Dave or my dad made the suggestion, but a phone call was made to Dave’s home. No answer. Stiff smiles matched the tension for the next few minutes. KYW news radio, the constant backdrop in our house, had no news of Dave’s father. No news is good news.

Predictably, the snow kept coming while just as unpredictably, word from or about Dave’s father did not. Every 15 minutes or so a call was made to Dave’s house. No answer. There was no public transportation available after midnight on Christmas Eve, and walking the three or four miles in a snowstorm was out of the question. The only other alternative became the elephant in the room. No one seemed to mention my father taking him home.

I think my father didn’t want to take him home. I suspect he felt some resentment about the whole thing anyway. Here’s this kid coming after his daughter — and on Christmas Eve! The sport coat and tie may have landed points with Kathy, but they didn’t impress dad. So we sat and smiled politely and talked about how the snow was falling and drifting in the wind… KYW news radio droned in the background.

Memory fails when it comes to the details of how it all ended. Seems like it went on until two o’clock in the morning or so. Somehow, Dave’s father was finally reached. Maybe there had been some misunderstanding about the pickup time or place. What I do remember is that Dave’s father and my father agreed to share the transport burden. They met on a snowy corner somewhere halfway between our houses. At last, the girls and boys were tucked in their beds on Christmas Eve.

Over the years this story has been told in our family anytime someone yearns openly for a “white Christmas.” We get a good laugh from it. And we wonder what happened to the boy who showed up with the snow that Christmas Eve so long ago.


Four years after this white Christmas of 1963 in New Jersey, my friend, Russell (Pop) Lewis and I were in Vietnam. Not a white Christmas there either.

Four years after this white Christmas of 1963 in New Jersey, my friend, Russell (Pop) Lewis and I were in Vietnam. Not a white Christmas there either.


  1. Good read…as always, wish you wrote more.

  2. Merry Christmas… Joe & Lorece

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