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Christmas: A Time to Be Together, But Some Are Away From Home

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MITCHELLVILLE, Iowa -- As a journalist working over the Christmas holiday, Channel 13's Roger Riley has met some interesting people with some touching stories.

He wanted to take a minute to share his stories:

Truck driver Joshua Fernandez is spending his first Christmas away from his family. He is a truck driver hauling mail from Chicago to Oregon.  He will eventually make his way back home after New Year's Day.

I talked to Joshua while interviewing motorists for a story on the fog gripping Iowa on Christmas Day.

The Cuba native lived in Miami for 20 years before moving to Chicago about a month ago.  He not only saw snow for the first time, but he is experiencing it first-hand by driving an 18-wheeler through the snow.

“The snow isn’t comfortable to drive in but it’s cute— it’s pretty, everything is white," said Fernandez.

He has been able to stay in touch with his wife and extended family through cell phone conversations and text messages.

"She says, 'We are wishing you a merry Christmas,'" said Fernandez. "They sent me a picture, and they, 'A chair is here waiting for you.'"

In Colfax, I met a man who was traveling to meet his son face-to-face for the first time. He was from North Dakota and was traveling to a central Iowa town to spend Christmas with him. The man told me his son had recently lost his mother to cancer, so the timing of their meeting was special. The two have talked often on the phone, but it took Christmas and a death in the family before they could get together. The son also has a new baby, meaning the man will get to meet his grandchild.

In Carroll covering the Christmas Eve snowfall, a woman came up to me in McDonald's to inquire about the road conditions. She noticed my laptop open and thought I would know. I said the roads did not look great between Carroll and Waukee, where her kids were located.

I noticed a tear in her eye when I gave her the news about the roads.  She said, "I just lost my husband recently, and I'm trying to figure out what to do."

Seeing how nervous she was about the roads, I advised her to stay at a nearby motel and wait it out. She took my advice.

She was traveling from a small town in western Iowa and had a trunk full of meat to give to her kids. She thought it should be iced overnight, but I told her the temperature was below freezing so not to worry.

Christmas is a time to be together, but some circumstances can leave people apart and lonely.

So where ever you are this Christmas,  be kind. Many people need it.

I hope you are spending time with loved ones, or at least thinking of them!  Merry Christmas!

-Roger Riley, multimedia journalist

This is me on the left, with daughter Robyn, and wife Susie. (Ryan Riley photo)

This is me on the left with my daughter Robyn and wife Susie. (photo: Ryan Riley)