In the introduction to “Your Story,” Christmas was less than a month away, but Meghan Andrews wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit.
She couldn’t explain why. She just knew she wasn’t looking forward to the holiday season, and she would rather skip the whole thing.
Looking out her office window, Meghan saw signs of Christmas everywhere.
Colorful lights were strung on trees, animated displays danced in store windows and festive music greeted people as they made their way through town.
Santa Claus was even walking around, handing out candy canes to children.
Meghan wished she could feel that wonder and excitement again.
While getting ready to head home for the day, her coworker, Jill, stopped by her office to see if she wanted to grab a drink.
Jill could tell Meghan was stressed, and told her that things can’t be that bad because it’s Christmas.
A few drinks in, Jill was rambling on and on about her big family Christmas plans – what she was cooking, who was coming to the festivities, what gifts she bought and which carols the family would sing together around the piano.
It hit Meghan that maybe that was why she didn’t feel the holiday spirit.
She hadn’t really celebrated Christmas in years.
Meghan hadn’t been close to her family in quite some time.
They spoke on occasion, but she couldn’t remember the last time they were all together for the holidays.
Feeling discouraged, Meghan decided to leave and walk home to get some fresh air.
It was a cold night and the wind whipped all around Meghan.
As she rounded the corner of her street, something in the snow caught her eye.
Bending down, Meghan saw it was an old photograph.
As she looked closer at it, a flash of light blinded her.
Coming to, Meghan found herself sitting in a pile of snow.
Confused, she looked around.
“Where am I?” Meghan said. ...
Meghan looked around, bewildered.
She remembered wishing just before the flash of light that she could go back to a simpler time when she loved Christmas and spending time with her family.
Everything changed with her grandparents’ passing.
Looking around, Meghan wondered what happened.
Walking by a newsstand she glanced down at the daily paper and noticed the date: Dec. 4, 1962.
A panic took over her body.
As Meghan stood there trying to processing everything a snowflake landed on her nose, startling her.
It reminded her of her childhood days, trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue with her friend Joseph while visiting her grandparents for the holidays.
Strolling down the street, the smell of chestnuts roasting in front of the old department store caught her attention.
The laughter of children having snowball fights behind their snow forts made her smile.
Meghan grinned as a few girls were making snow angels.
A family hurriedly passed her, the children all dressed for their school Christmas pageant.
Meghan stopped at the end of the park, noticing the reflection of colored lights bouncing off the wet street. It reminded her of the watercolor painting her grandparents had hanging in their hallway.
That’s when it hit her. That is why it’s all so familiar.
This was what it was like when she visited her grandparents as a child – stringing popcorn, baking cookies, watching the Christmas specials on TV all snuggled under a warm blanket with her cousins, eating popcorn balls, the smell of turkey cooking in the kitchen, building a snowman in the front yard.
They were wonderful times, Meghan recalled.
As she walked on, a group of carolers going door to door singing invited her to join in.
She declined and continued walking.
Meghan suddenly was filled with a happiness she hadn’t felt in a long time. She thought that this is what was missing. It’s the people, all the human connections.
She thought this what what she needed, what the world needed.
Everyone is distracted with the latest technology, work and busy lives that they have forgotten what is most important, and that’s people and spending time with loved ones.
Meghan reached in her pocket for a tissue to wipe the tears that filled her eyes and felt something between her fingers.
She pulled out the old photograph she had retrieved from the snow pile earlier. She looked at the photo, studying it intently.
Then, it hit her. She must have gone back in time, but how? ...
By Lori Cornetti
An orange blur rolled past, disturbing Meghan’s reverie.
She watched the iconic electric trolley bus travel down the street, connected to overhead lines by two long “antennae.”
A long-forgotten memory surfaced of Meghan as a child, holding her older brother’s hand as they waited for the bus to take them to her beloved grandmother’s house.
She would look up at the brother she adored and asked, “Michael, don’t you just love going to Grandma’s?”
“I sure do, Meggie.” He tousled her baby-fine hair, eliciting a shriek.
“But I like messing up your hair even more!”
He chased her around the bus stop until the “trolley car,” as Meghan liked to call it, arrived.
Meghan felt a twinge at the memory of her brother Michael.
When they were young, he was her hero, and she tagged along after him as much as he would allow. As the years passed, life and circumstances had led to a falling-away. Sadly, they hadn’t communicated in many years.
A light breeze blew, and Meghan thought she could smell fresh bread baking, taking her to Grandma’s kitchen in her mind.
The modest yellow home had always been a cocoon of love and safety, a sanctuary from the world.
Every visit began with hugs and kisses and ended with grandma saying, “Don’t forget your loot bag!” as she handed each child a small plastic baggie of varied treats to take home to enjoy.
Meghan looked back down at the photograph in her hand.
It was a black-and-white photo, quite faded, with the subtle outlines of a Christmas tree and several people. She sighed, tucking it into her pocket, wishing the images were clearer because they seemed somehow important.
“Are you lost?” a concerned voiced asked.
Meghan looked up to see a 20-something young man at her elbow. As the snow gently drifted down, he pulled his coat tighter against the cold.
“If you were looking to go to the Jets’ game, I’m afraid it’s already over,” he informed her.
“The War Memorial was packed, too, so I’m glad they won for the home crowd.”
He looked questioningly at her.
“No, no, I’m fine,” Meghan said.
“Thanks for asking though,” she said, laughing nervously.
“It’s just been a weird kind of day.”
As the young man continued on his trek, Meghan exhaled forcefully.
“Wow! I guess I can’t deny it.
“Johnstown hasn’t seen trolley buses or a Jets hockey game in a long time. Somehow, it really is 1962, as crazy as that sounds.”
She took a deep breath and started walking, determined to find out what this adventure was all about.
Meghan rounded the corner and, impossibly, there stood the edifice that was Greater Johns-town High School.
She crossed the bridge over the Stonycreek, knowing now where this journey would lead.
Meghan enjoyed the sparkle of the snow-kissed Christmas lights as the snow crunched under her feet. Finally, her eyes spied the yellow house on Sherman Street that no longer existed in 2021, but she knew would be there just the same – Grandma’s house.
“Just as I remember,” Meghan whispered to herself.
Large, multi-colored Christmas lights outlined the structure. A fresh wreath decorated with pine cones, bells and a red velvet bow was centered on the front door. And in the yard, trumpeting angels announced the glad tidings of the season.
An overwhelming sense of love and belonging enfolded Meghan as the house beckoned.
“How can this be?” Meghan wondered incredulously.
“I must be going crazy,” she muttered when her hand found the picture in her pocket. Heart pounding, she slowly drew it out.
Meghan gasped. The photograph, now in full color, seemed to have more discernible detail.
A train and village could now be seen under the Christmas tree. The figures in the picture had more definition as well, though they were still not clear.
There was only one thing to do.
Meghan made her way to the house, trembling from more than the cold. There was an almost palpable sensation of peace emanating from the home as she climbed the steps onto the porch.
She took a deep breath and, before she could change her mind, knocked on the door. ...