A two day drive for a family of four in a Chevette is memorable.  We loaded the car with our bulky winter clothes in our suitcases, Christmas presents, an ice chest full of food plus some dry goods and left our home in Durham, North Carolina to spend Christmas 1978 with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Oklahoma City.

The entire way there I wished that our aging vehicle and the energy crisis had not caused my parents to sell the roomy and really cool, 1966 automatic transmission Dodge Charger for the really dinky, 1976 standard transmission Chevrolet Chevette.  Especially, when my almost 2 year old brother was moving from sitting in Mom’s lap in the front seat to trying to find a place in the back with me.  The Charger would have been so much more comfortable though I was grateful that our German Shepherd & two Siamese cats stayed home.

In my family we only stopped on these trips to eat, get gas or to sleep in a motel for the night.  Going to the rest room could only be combined with one of those stops.  I’m sure this trip was like all the others in that there was no radio turned on and even if it was no one would agree on a music genre so unpleasant comments might be heard.  Instead of radio music there was a lot of silence with occasional stories and jokes that Dad would tell then Mom would find something interesting in a book and begin sharing it with us.  We would also play car games or sing songs from time to time.  But mostly, we each entertained ourselves.  So, I knitted my brother some mittens and a hat.  I started when we left and finished along the way (see the photo of him wearing them below and I think he still has the hat.)

I don’t have many memories of the visit itself but I remember that the weather was cold with snow and ice, which left the roads very treacherous, and I also recall viewing Christmas lights with my cousin (see ACCM Day 5 Outdoor Decorations).  Since I don’t recall many specifics of that visit I hope you enjoy the photos below that include the Chevette; the hat and mittens I knitted; family; scenery showing the snow & ice; one of the icy rest stops along the way; and an adorable picture of my brother, David, asleep with a book standing tent style on top of him.

Click to enlarge, then zoom in

Travel during the Christmas holiday for us was a time to visit family, not to visit a new place. From the time I was 8 until I was 21 we lived one or more states away from my extended family. For most of those years we visited Oklahoma occasionally and sometimes my grandparents visited us. Based on my memory & which years we have Christmas photos here’s a list of where we were living when we traveled to spend Christmas with family from 1960-1981:

  1. 1960 Altus, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City
  2. 1962 Altus, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City
  3. 1967 Graham, Texas to Oklahoma City
  4. 1970 Wichita Falls, Texas to Oklahoma City
  5. 1978 Durham, North Carolina to Oklahoma City

I suspect that from 1963 – 1966 we visited Oklahoma City as well but I have no photos of those Christmases and we lived in various cities within Oklahoma so it would have been a fairly short drive to visit family.  Just so you know, I’ve moved 25 times to 16 different cities in 5 different states so Christmas was mostly spent wherever we were living at the time.  My grandparents visited us for Christmas 1977 in Durham, North Carolina and my Grammy visited for Christmas 1980 in El Paso, Texas.  Thankfully, since 1981 we’ve lived in Oklahoma City and all my family is here making Christmas travel non-existent.

This is my submission for the Advent Calendar Christmas Memories, 2009