Chicken Soup to the Rescue

Chicken Soup to the Rescue

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

Chicken Soup to the Rescue

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.

~Anthony J. D’Angelo

Plans had been made weeks in advance for the upcoming Valentine’s high school dance. I had two teenagers and one younger child in elementary school. Both of the older ones had dates for this very special occasion. Suits and dresses were chosen with all the accessories needed to complete everyone’s wardrobe. It was a draining experience for my energy and my budget. Flowers were ordered; it looked like it would be a wonderful evening for both of them. Our youngest was happily anticipating the class party that would be held on that day at his grammar school. Our house was full of emotion, excitement, and a bit of nerves.

Things began to change on February 11th as I was watching the nightly weather report. A crippling ice storm was headed our way and due to arrive the night of the 13th. We live just outside Dallas, Texas and when an ice storm hits here, the entire city shuts down. There is just not enough equipment or manpower to make the roads quite as safe as they do up north. I decided not to say anything to the three kids about what I had seen on TV, but I kept a close watch on the weather over the next few days.

The weathermen were certain it was coming and it was going to be a bad one. A thick coat of ice would blanket the city and six inches of snow would follow. I decided to prepare for the worst. I knew I needed to pull a rabbit out of my hat to make this Valentine’s a special one for my three children, who were in for a major disappointment.

Just a few weeks earlier I had read a story by Kathleene Baker in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad. It was called “Valentine’s Day Ambush.” It gave me some great ideas for how I might be able to pull off a great and memorable Valentine’s Day for my family. The more I thought, the more enthusiastic I became. I made a list of everything I needed to prepare.

I began shopping. I bought gifts for everyone, including two bouquets of beautiful fresh pink and red roses. I even bought several heart shaped pans and had all the groceries on hand for a wonderful feast, just in case there was no dance and no party. I made sure that the menu would include a favorite dish for each member of the family.

February 13th arrived. With my cup of coffee I sat down to listen to what the weather station had to say yet again. Every channel agreed the storm was coming. “Batten down the hatches; get ready, it’s on the way.” I was prepared for everything except the tears and sad faces I would encounter once my three excited kids heard the news. I kept busy that day baking and cooking everything that I could do in advance. As I was pulling a lovely heart-shaped cake from the oven, I heard something strange. I put the cake on the counter to cool and walked toward the noise, peeking out the window I observed ice slivers falling from the sky. The older kids arrived home shortly after that and came bursting into the house in an all-out teenage panic. “Mom,” they shouted in unison. “They may have to cancel the dance; we’re going to have an ice storm!” I assured them that it would be okay. “I am positive the school will reschedule the dance once the weather clears.” I tried to reassure them. That statement seemed to be of no comfort, especially to my daughter as I watched her eyes fill with tears. The youngest had been playing with his toy cars and overheard the conversation; he began to wail as if his heart would break.

The next day when I awoke, I glanced outside and the streets looked like an ice skating rink. Trees and bushes drooped, glistening with a heavy layer of ice. Schools and most businesses were closed. The newscasters were telling everyone to stay home. Most people heeded their advice, including us.

I allowed the kids to sleep late as I began to prepare the wonderful feast in celebration of Valentine’s Day. I kept thinking that if Kathleene’s dad could pull it off, I could too. He was my inspiration.

That evening the table looked beautiful, with red dishes and fresh flowers. Festive gifts were placed on each plate. Food filled every inch of space on the table and many things were heart-shaped. I told everyone to put on their best outfits and come into the dining room. I wore a gold and beige evening gown that had been hidden away in the back of my closet. My husband donned his blue suit and the two teens wore the new outfits they had chosen for the dance. Our youngest dressed himself; he looked so cute, with his church pants and a sweater three sizes too big.

Soon smiles and laughter filled the room; we enjoyed a Valentine dinner fit for the royal family, with seconds on dessert! Neither the dance nor the school party was mentioned the entire evening; everyone was wrapped up in all of the festivities. Before everyone went to bed that evening I received praises and hugs from them all.

We were stuck indoors several days before the roads were safe to travel again. Just as I had predicted, the dance was rescheduled for the next weekend and the elementary school party would be held the following day.

Had it not been for that inspirational story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad, I doubt I’d have thought to conjure up something to salvage the day for three disappointed children. “Chicken Soup” came to my rescue, but this time it was not for a cold.

~Carol Commons-Brosowske

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