This has got to be the longest Christmas vacation ever.
Girls were back in school Thursday, but as snow started falling that evening, I had a feeling that school would be closed the next day. At 6am, Mark popped his head in as he was leaving for the kitchen to let me know that public schools were closed. I promptly rolled over to his side of the bed to shut the alarm off and went back to sleep. 2 hours later I heard one of the kids running into the room in a bit of a panic because she thought that we had overslept and we’d be late leaving for school (we are all a bit anal retentive about being on time, like annoyingly so). I admit feeling relieved when I heard it was a snow day. I’ve gotten pretty used to the holiday schedule of sleeping in and relaxed mornings. Years ago I probably would have felt stressed trying to scramble for childcare if I was on a project, but these days I’m happy if I don’t have to rush around in the mornings making school lunches which have become something of an albatross at this point. What do you pack for children who don’t like sandwiches? Exactly. We stayed cozied up indoors all day, too cold and unmotivated to go out, but in reality that’s just an excuse because all of us are homebodies, even the girls, and I’m too old and don’t give a crap now to deny it.
But today we went sledding.
I can’t really remember if I ever went sledding when I was a kid. When it snowed, my dad would spend hours shoveling the driveway and the sidewalk, just as he did shoveling his house in the burbs yesterday. I vaguely recall a sled in our garage given to us by a neighbor, the old vintage kind made of wood and metal, so maybe I went with friends when I was older, but I definitely don’t remember going with my parents. Maybe it’s my own warped cultural perspective, but I just can’t picture any Asian immigrant parents of their generation taking their kids sledding, at least the ones I knew. And what about making steaming cups of hot cocoa bobbing with little mini marshmallows afterwards? That was the stuff of commercials that didn’t happen in our Asian household. You know, stuff that “American people” did like leave cookies out for Santa and hide candy for Easter egg hunts.
The only very real snow memory that I have growing up was the day my mom and I trekked to Central Park from our Queens apartment after a blizzard when I was 8. What I remember most was getting out of the train station after a long subway ride, walking up the stairs to street level and stepping immediately into at least a foot of snow. My legs just sunk down into powdery white to above my knees with each step as we made our way towards the park. You might be wondering why we’d even bother making that 45 minute trek on the subway from our apartment because surely there were other parks in our Queens neighborhood to frolic in during a snow storm? Ah, but you see, we were studying NY in second grade and each student in our class was assigned one city destination to visit and do a report on and I got Central Park. Yes! My mother wouldn’t have made that trek unless it was purely for academic reasons. Years later she would still remind me about that time she took me to the park during a blizzard in a dirty, late 70s graffiti covered subway just so that I could walk around, snap a few photos and grab a few brochures for a school assignment. These were typically moments when she wanted to tell me, “don’t say I never do anything for you” without actually saying it.
The only clear memory I have of going sledding was when I was 20 and living in Ohio. Have I ever told you about the year I lived in Ohio for 4 months? I did, in the latter half of 1991 at my then boyfriend’s parents’ house in a quaint little town called Granville. Granville is a college town in Central Ohio that models itself after a New England village and it plays the part quite well. It’s the kind of place where residents decorate their houses for the holidays with real Evergreen garlands and a single electric candle in every window of their houses. So basically, not like where I grew up in Queens where it was all about lighted up lawn ornaments and as many multi-colored Christmas lights as your electricity bill could support.
I won’t get into why I ended up in Granville or what I was doing there (my parents didn’t even know I was living in Ohio at the time; that’s another story for another day), but one day after a big snow storm the then boyfriend’s parents decided to go sledding…at night. It was the first time I had ever gone sledding in the dark, never mind sledding with my boyfriend’s parents and we were in the middle of literally nowhere with nobody else around for probably miles. It was also very possible that we were trespassing on somebody else’s land. We had the best time. I should also mention that the parents were quite a bit older than mine so the fact that they were sliding down that hill, whooping it up like kids and falling over in the snow was a bit of an eye opener. They weren’t like hippie granola types either – just the opposite actually, as they were a generation older than my parents and somewhat conservative, God fearing people, so our nighttime snow expedition seemed out of character for them. But I guess snow does that to some people, brings them back to their childhoods and makes them feel like kids again for the few minutes they’re flying down that hill. Unless you’re my parents, of course, and the only memories of childhood snow is walking 5 miles to school in blizzard-like conditions with inadequate shoewear. Oh, when my parents would say stuff like, “when I was a kid, I had to walk 10 miles barefoot in the woods just to get to school every day!”, they actually meant it. Snow wasn’t recreational; it was a hardship. There’s no way to even respond to that when you’re a kid. Which may explain why we never went sledding.