Today I realized that I am old – no, I mean it – I am old! I know this because winter is no longer fun. It isn’t even mildly amusing any longer – I don’t even enjoy just sitting and watching the snow fall because I know I’m going to have to go out on the roads later and battle the idiots who don’t know how to drive in it or better yet – who think the interstate is a giant bumper car amusement ride and the object of the game is to hit as many people as possible! Yes, it is official – I am one of those old people who complain about winter from the time the first flake falls until the last one evaporates – and just to clarify – I’m talking about snow flakes and not my husband or children – although that might make winter a little funnier and definitely more interesting!
Did I ever like winter or just learn to tolerate it since it lasted sometimes from September until May? Did I pretend to like it because all of my friends LOVED it because they were ready to go skiing? Did I just like winter because I REALLY liked hot chocolate and roaring fires? Or maybe I really didn’t notice winter all that much because I tended to have my nose stuck in a book, curled up on a couch – so it was no big deal.
No, I distinctly remember a time when I thought winter was fun – I’m not that old that I can’t remember being a kid! Yes, I spent a lot of time reading – but I enjoyed watching the snow fall and seeing it pile up outside my window. I loved the whiteness and the quiet that comes with snow. I loved the crunch it used to make under my snow boots as I walked to school (no, we didn’t walk uphill in the snow barefoot!) I remember volunteering to shovel the walk at night and doing the entire block – because it was wonderful to hear nothing but my own breath and my own thoughts. Those nights were magical and they gave me a short respite from a household of little sisters demanding attention and all of us constantly yakking at each other.
I never learned to ski (skiing and college cost about the same – so I chose college) – but I enjoyed watching the skiers come down the hill, their faces flushed and covered with snow. No one wore special ski suits to hurtle down the hill – they usually just wore a couple of pairs of jeans, a good down-filled jacket, hat, ski gloves and some good goggles. There was true joy in watching them race to the bottom of the hill and then clamor to get back in line to go back to the top.
I DID really like hot chocolate and still do. However, I remember hugging a cup of that wonderful drink after being out ice skating with my friends and my sisters – not on a rink like we do now where everyone goes around in a circle the same way – but on the town ice rink where everyone was doing their own thing at various spots of the rink. It wasn’t very big, but you could always count on one side being set aside for some hockey, another part was for the little kids learning how to balance and then others for those of us who just wanted to glide as best we could across the bumpy ice (no Zamboni to smooth things out – besides the rink wasn’t much bigger than a Zamboni). Or better yet – we had stopped on the way home from taking our sleds down the College Hill (a really big hill on the backside of the college football stadium). We hugged that cup of hot chocolate until we could feel our fingers again and the steam had thawed out our cheeks. It was a wonderful feeling.
Okay – so maybe I’m not quite that old. Maybe the key to winter happiness is remembering when winter was fun for us and making sure that our children and grandchildren have the same memories – but they better not touch my hot chocolate!