Snow and Sentiment

“How is it Christmas already? I feel like this year went by really fast!” Someone exclaimed last week. Did you feel that too? Most of us felt that way at our house this year.

It’s our first Christmas in this house, yet shortly after every move we’ve ever made, the figuring out ‘of where to put the Christmas tree’ begins. Once that was sorted (the right corner of the living room shoved against the wall and below the fake skylight…), it felt like we had finally settled in. 

As I decorated the tree with the boys, I kept giving them an overly detailed mom-style origin story of every ornament. “This one was a wedding gift! And this was mine when I was a kid… And this one used to hang on Grandma’s tree in Germany!” 

I’m sentimental. I know that about myself. As I’m aging, I also know that my old sentiment dial is exponentially ramping up. 

It happened again a week ago when the snow started to fall. 

We’ve gotten snow in Vancouver before, but this Ontario grown girl has always said, “This isn’t how we used to get it back home….” But this time? 

A foot of that fluffy white powder fell while we were asleep last week. I eagerly shoveled the front walk as my kids popped their heads out our front door. Glee, mixed with some oatmeal on the youngest, was splattered all over their faces. I had never seen them dress in winter gear so quickly. I had also never seen kids use ski goggles (smart, right?) to construct a winter igloo. It was a week of firsts for my kids and resurfacing pasts for me. 

Frozen feet coming in from the cold. The coldest of air freezing your nose hairs. That crisp crunch sound the snow makes under your walking boots. Rosy cheeks, hot chocolate, and a full-time dryer getting the snow stuff ready for the next round. 

And then there was the sledding. 

I used to spend hours sledding in my driveway; that giant hill the neighbour made with his tractor clearing our driveway was perfection. It lived across from our homemade ice rink, sometimes from October until May. 

As the first flakes were starting to fall last week, we grabbed the last few sleds off the store shelves… Risky last-minute shopping? Absolutely. But for the record, it’s hard to convince kids to walk to the store for sleds while they’re barely wearing coats and the sun is shining. An old man made fun of us that time we brought back our snow shovel from Canadian Tire. “It’s NOT going to snow. You won’t need that shovel.” He had scoffed. “We’re holding on to hope!” I had answered.

We had our sleds; now we needed a hill. 

After a lot of tired searching and watching a kid slide through the bike path and nearly end up in the ocean… And after almost taking out a kid on the playground trying to slide down that hill… we finally found them. The most appropriate of sledding hills. Steep enough to make you scream and safe enough to not make ME cry. Cars, playgrounds, and oceans were only in the distance. 

Neighbour kids joined us; we were like a sledding gang trudging along the path dragging our smorgasbord of sleds. A heap of them squeezed into the neighbour girl’s sled. Joy and fear became coexisting emotions heard in every yell from the ride down the hills. I even took a few turns because I just couldn’t resist. Similarly, my oldest couldn’t resist giving me an extra forceful teenage push. At one point, a sled hit ‘that’ bump at just the wrong angle, and they all flew out in a tumble. I’m still unsure how my youngest ended up with the nighbour girl’s little pink earmuffs wrapped around his leg. 

The snow just made everything feel more like Christmas. 

With all the lights, the eggnog, the Home Alone viewings… Yesterday one son couldn’t hold it in any longer, and he belted Good King Wenceslas at the top of his lungs on repeat. 

But then, as quickly as it came, it started to leave… 

“Woah… what happened to all the snow?” My oldest said as he came down the stairs this morning. The rain is back, and the roads are starting to clear. It’ll ensure we get to all the people and places we need to in the coming days. That brings me joy too. 

Tonight my youngest is reading Luke 2 at the Christmas Eve service. He’s got a new haircut, a new collared shirt, and a mom who remembers way back when she was a kid doing the same thing. 

I know I said it already, but it truly has been a week of firsts for my kids and resurfacing pasts for me. It’s good that sentiment is one of my most favourite gifts. 

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