remembering snow

January 4, 2014 |  Category:   growing up half life remembering



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.

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  • Dani January 4, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    As a kid from an Asian immigrant family I can relate to your post. Thank you for continuing to write, I especially enjoy reading about your experiences growing up in an Asian immigrant household. Reminds me of my childhood. Please keep writing!

  • Deanna January 5, 2014 at 12:24 am

    I really love reading your posts, the stories you tell, and your honest, pure writing. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

  • Gail January 5, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Ha! Packing school lunches being the albatross of one’s morning! So true…….Liberation finally came when my girls were around 8 & 12, and I joyously surrendered the chore to them. Their lunch–they pack. (Maybe I could have gone this route even earlier….)

    But I also want to say that I love the posting mix that you’ve created with your blog, and yes, maybe they’re outdated, but I’m still reading for the window into your life and out of my own that you offer. I love the blend of outing reports, musings, business promotion, & recollections, combined with outstanding photography. Many thanks.

    • Jenna January 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Yes, sometimes the M will pack her own lunch and once a week she buys lunch. But until they both can, it’s a challenge every day!

  • eileen January 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Jenna! I’ve been reading your blog for years (but never commented) and have been waiting and waiting to try Whimsy & Spice–but live in London so haven’t been able to. I finally got my chance this past Christmas when I was working in America and everything has been SO VERY GOOD. In fact, I kept a couple packages to myself that I bought as gifts because I couldn’t bear someone else not appreciating them as much. Can’t wait to order again one day!

    And to be more on topic: I am half Korean (mom’s side) and so very much of what you write resonates. My mom used to pack rice and seaweed for my lunch alongside a packet of Lay’s…

    • Jenna January 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Oh, thank you so much trying our products! We appreciate it so much.

  • TrishOshaughnessy January 5, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    What Gail said. She said it so well. :)

  • Rachel January 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    I know I used to go sledding too…but I can’t recall ever fully enjoying it. It terrifies me now, so I haven’t done it in years, but…I must have enjoyed it at some point in time, right? Who knows. Sledding in NYC, though…that’s something I’d love to watch.

    • Jenna January 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      well, I went down the hill once this sledding trip. Promptly fell off the sled and onto the snow.

  • Jeanie who you know from evergreen January 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Jenna, I also love reading your posts! I keep forgetting to do certain joyful traditions for my kids that I never got to do when I was young because it wasn’t a part of my upbringing or culture either, but the joy on their face when I remember to incorporate them is awesome! The best part for your kids is that they’ll have beautiful photographs that you took preserving these memories. They are so lucky.

    And, I’m also interested in finding out what people pack for their children when they don’t eat sandwiches. Neither of my kids eat sandwiches either. I think rice and seaweed and potato chips sounds like a perfect lunch for my 5 year old daughter.

    • Jenna January 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      Hey Jeanie! nice to hear from you!
      As far as lunches, I do pack a sandwich once a week, I have to! You run out of options. But the rest of the time it’s usually stuff like fried rice, pasta, mac and cheese, etc…the usual. I also pack them an apple every day. They always yell at me because I never pack them cookies or any treats, haha.

  • Sora January 7, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I have the same issue with the lunch packing as well as these “American” holidays. Trader Joe’s has saved my butt many a times with their frozen pastas and other goodies for lunch. Bean/cheese quesadillas are a staple as well.
    I love that you mentioned the “American” traditions like leaving cookies for Santa, doing stockings, and Easter egg hunts. I am learning to get with the program, but it is so hard for me still to enjoy the holidays. It is rather stressful for me — but I try really hard not to show it in front of my kids (husband, another matter!).

  • Gina Namkung January 8, 2014 at 11:21 am

    A rotisserie chicken (or roast one yourself) can provide lots of options. Sliced, shredded, made into a salad, wrapped in a tortilla, skewered with pieces of fruit or roasted veg, etc.

    Charcuterie: meats and cheeses, baguette slices, pickles, olives, nuts, etc.

    Soup (a wide mouthed thermos is great for reheated left overs).

    Hummus and pita chips.

    Guacamole and Late July chips.

    Like you, I am of Korean descent as my parents (father originally from Pyongyang but whose family fled to Shanghai during the occupation, and mother from Seoul whose father was “taken away” because he was viewed as a threat to the government) met in 1950 at the UW (yes, in Seattle, where I was born). In their respective youth, my parents were exposed to western culture, primarily through the arts as well as my paternal grandfather having studied at the Princeton Seminary in the 1920’s to become a theologian. I imagine this is in part why they embraced American culture and for sure, I benefited from their wanting to assimilate. It’s also why I don’t identify as being “Korean American”. I’m no less American than my white husband is even if there are people who see the color of my hair and the shape of my eyes and decide that I am “foreign”. Sigh…

    But on another subject, I know Granville! (Who would have thought a kid from New Mexico – one of mine – would end up going to college there?) Did you ever visit the tiny building on Main St. that’s home to the Historical Society? It’s something straight out of “Gilmore Girls”, no joke.

    Always appreciate your thoughts and reflection.

    • Jenna January 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      wow Gina,
      I think you’re the only other person who knows Granville that I’ve come across! So weird and random. My then boyfriend’s mom worked at the college. Yes…the downtown is very Gilmore Girls. That’s what I meant – so new england that it almost outdoes the real New England.

  • Pink Ronnie January 12, 2014 at 1:11 am

    “Yes! My mother wouldn’t have made that trek unless it was purely for academic reasons.” Gosh, that makes me chuckle, because I can SO relate to that…
    Ronnie xo

  • Karyn January 21, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    I also know Granville! I haven’t visited your site for a while and it was funny to see the word Ohio pop up. I’m from Cambridge, which is just about an hour southeast of Granville. It is an adorable little town. I was passing through it this summer and stopped to take a photo of one of the fire trucks parked in the station. One of the firefighters came out and offered to pull the truck out of the garage for me! Small town kindness. We moved south this year to North Carolina so I am missing Ohio and all the beautiful snow right now.