rotating header

Sunday, December 19, 2010


A few months ago some friends put a rather large amount of cash in our hands and said: spend this on something fun that you would not otherwise do. We do not deserve moments like this. And we've had quite a few this HMA, gestures that go beyond anything we've asked for, that affirm a smiling God. I immediately thought of skiing. Our kids had been skiing four times in their lives, four days, and each day stands out as a unique and valuable memory: Massanutten VA with my parents (when 2-year-old Jack snuck his rented yellow ski boots on at night in bed he loved them so much, and my Dad BOUGHT them for him, a milestone moment of crazy love), Sierra Nevada Spain (when we took a bus from Granada after a meeting, had a glorious day, decided we could ski all the way down to the base rather than take the lift, and felt like we might have died by the time our approximately 5 to 10 year olds navigated the steep slopes under pressure of the-last-bus-back deadline rapidly approaching), Lake Tahoe CA with Scott's family (Aunt Sonja took the whole day with protege Julia who was a natural, Jack jumped on the slope with his experienced cousins before we could even remind him about how to slow down), and the Alps in Austria with the Massos and others at WHM (unbelievable snow and views and company). Though that is an average of one day every 3 to 4 years, they have all become milestone family moments.

So we've had this cash and this hope percolating, but the days we've had with all six of us together and no other obligation since arriving in the US have been, well, very very few. I thought this weekend could be a window, since Luke finished exams mid-day Friday and we didn't need to be in VA until Sunday evening. Not enough time or money to go somewhere with for-sure snow, we would have to take our chances with PA, which lies between New Haven and Virginia. I started surfing the internet. Then my mom "happened" to mention she had points left for 2010 on her time-share that she would need to give away or waste. I jumped to volunteer, and it turned out the choices included a cluster of condos on the NY/PA border, near some Pocono mountain slopes. We booked it. Still now snow in the NE, unlike most of the USA it seems, but we figured we could at least enjoy a day in the woods. . .

We picked Luke up Friday, after untold hours of traffic and detours (nothing like trying to pass through several of the major cities on the East Coast on a Friday before Christmas). Hugs and joy, exams done, first semester survived! We arrived in PA late Friday evening. Saturday broke in, brilliantly sunny and cold. Skeptical, we just though we would check out the local ski slope. If we hadn't had that gift we wouldn't have tried it, given the man-made snow and the weekend-costs. But I'm so glad we did. The lifts and equipment for six was within a few dollars of exactly matching the gift. We had our fifth day of family-ski life, and it was another fantastic one. No lines. Clear skies, empty woods. Powdery snow that scraped away to iciness by sunset. Almost-full moon rising as we flew up the lifts. We skied almost continuously all day, and most of that time we were pretty much together. I was always the last one to reach the bottom, being a fan of sharper speed-decreasing turns than the rest of my family. We would regroup on the lift, take turns choosing the route down, swish and glide through the wintry beauty, encourage the fallen, and then do it all again. The ominous crushing blade of the snow-boarders overtaking me was sometimes unnerving, but we all made it through the day intact. Our rental had a rec center with a pool and hot tub, bubbling hot salt water that was perfect that evening, kindness to rarely-used muscles. By the time we ate dinner I wasn't sure if everyone could stay awake, but we managed to cap the evening off with a fire and a chapter from "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" (which we usually read CAMPING in the SAVANNAH pre-Christmas, still by a fire, but otherwise a world away).

So thanks friends, for the gift of sun and exercise and snow and craziness and overcoming fears and doing it together. Thanks mom for the gift of a place to stay along the way. Thanks other friends for the loan of the massive van to move us from here to there. For me, Christmas has come, I'm content.

1 comment:

Heidi said...