When I was a child growing up in the mountains of Virginia, snow days were an over-the-top reason to celebrate. In one, wet-booted, snow-packed day, my friends and I could have more fun than Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween rolled into one.
We’d start by sleeping in, but not too long, because in Virginia the snow didn’t last and we had to take full advantage. We’d pull on our snow pants, parkas and chunky boots, layering mittens over gloves and pulling the ear flaps down low over our heads. We’d head to the giant hill behind the Huber’s house up the road, or to the long, meandering hill that ran from the Paysour’s side yard to the back of the Hiners. The former was steep and wide open, while the latter contained a pinball machine series of trees that we had to dodge with our sleds as we careened through the woods.
We’d bounce from one spot to the other until one of us was called in – mine with a dinner bell affixed to the back deck, my friend Anne’s with her mother’s multi-decibeled hollar – “Ayyyy-Yunnnn!”, which carried much farther than our dinky bell.
That was then, nearly 40 years ago but still etched in my mind like it was yesterday.
Now, I approach snow days – and the holidays – much differently. In Alaska we rarely receive a snow day because – as I quickly learned upon moving here 20 years ago – “real Alaskans don’t need snow days.”
On the rare occasion one happens, though, I enjoy watching my own children revel in the unexpected day off from the daily grind. I relax a little with them, allowing the dishes in the sink to pile up or the laundry to remain undone for awhile. Yet, mostly, I soldier on. Despite fresh snow, deadlines must be met, bills must be paid. Being a grownup can be such a drag.
The same with the holidays. In my youth, we celebrated Christmas and New Year’s with very specific traditions – Thanksgiving Day parade, followed by a month of holiday tunes to the anticipated Christmas Day and the following “12 days of Christmas.” We made cookies, wrapped presents, decked the halls and wrote detailed letters to Santa, outlining all of our Christmas Day wishes.
Today, my own family has created our yearly habits – cutting our own tree, making our special salmon dish on Christmas Eve and opening one present at midnight – just to ease the excitement and extend it a little as well.
This month, a few of our Coast columnists shared their holiday “then” and “now” memories. Little did they know back in their young adulthood, or their childhood that they were creating memories that would help shape the people they’ve become with the passions they have today. When we are in the moment, we rarely stop and wonder if at that very second it will be something to look back on for the decades. We simply live – some of those moments are lost with time and some can be recalled with the clarity of a high-definition recording.
Our Coast family wishes you all the best of the holiday season – no matter how you may celebrate. May the remaining days of 2015 be filled with memories of a lifetime, and may the year 2016 bring even greater joy to you all.