‘Snow way! I almost had a white Christmas when I travelled to the US’

Dec 01, 2019
One of the things Pamela and her daughter loved on their holiday was the Rockefeller Center skating rink. Source: Getty Images

It was December 1992. My daughter had just finished uni with a diploma in early childhood education. I had promised to take her to America after exams had finished. My younger daughter Rebecca and I had visited both the east coast and west coast the year before and I loved the whole experience so much that I had to go back with Kathryn. We had gone through a tough few years previously and luckily I had managed to put aside some money to give us a happy experience. I was widowed in late-1988 and had recently started a new relationship with a wonderful man who I eventually married in 1994.

These times travelling with my daughters were precious. My older son had already met his future wife and lived interstate. Kathryn had also met her future husband and both of us knew this would probably be the last trip away together.

We couldn’t go until early-December so we knew the east coast of America could be cold with the possibility of snow. Our itinerary included Florida and New York after flying in from Sydney to Los Angeles. We would then fly to San Francisco and Yosemite National Park. By the time we did all that it worked out that we would just be home in time for Christmas, early Christmas morning. The family would be okay with that, we didn’t think of the jet lag at that stage.

The day came when we waiting to board our plane at Sydney Airport. We glanced around at our travel companions in the queue and saw a familiar public face. It was Lindy Chamberlain. I had recently finished reading her interesting book.

Once settled in our seats and in the air, Kathryn and I stared chatting to the couple sitting next to us who it turned out to be Lindy’s friends who were travelling to America for Lindy’s wedding to her new man. Her parents and children were also on-board and we were introduced to her after I had mentioned to her friends I loved her book. We chatted with Lindy for a few minutes and I admired her engagement ring. I found the experience humbling and I was in awe of what this woman had gone through.

Orlando and the theme parks, Disney World and the Epcot Centre, were wonderful and before long we were heading to New York and colder weather. It was wonderful to see the Christmas decorations in the city, the highlight was the beautiful Christmas tree in the Plaza Hotel.

We also loved the Rockefeller ice skating rink. Kathryn was interviewed by a student film crew at the rink, of course we have forgotten now what the subject was but it was a fun thing at the time. The shopping was wonderful in New York and we had to buy an extra bag for all the goodies we’d purchased to take home for family.

I had a video camera and wondered why the battery went flat so quickly until someone said you have to keep it out of the cold. We were not used to the low temperatures. We saw The Nutcracker ballet one evening, another highlight and it really felt like Christmas.

It started lightly snowing on our last day in New York and once at the airport to catch our flight to Washington DC we saw the planes having to be deiced. We knew we were on a smaller plane but looked out at one very tiny one and laughed and said, hope that’s not ours but yes it was. The delays while ice was removed from the planes plus our mounting anxiety during the flight made for a nervous time. Things worked out fine though and before we knew it we were in sunny and warm San Francisco, after transferring onto a bigger plane in Washington.

As we found out, that wasn’t the end of the cold and snow. The bus tour we joined to take us to Yosemite had to put on snow chains once we got to a higher elevation. It had snowed the night before our trip and to our delight it was a winter wonderland. It felt like a white Christmas a few days out from the 25th. We loved the whole experience down to wearing the warmer coats and watching our step on the icy ground.

Our winter trip came to an end all too soon, but the delight on the faces of our family members at Sydney Airport made coming home all worthwhile. Nothing like a good old Aussie Christmas in the heat!

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