Todays writing prompt at Holidailies is: Tell us a story about snow. Well...I was born in North Dakota. When I tell people that, most say, "Oh I have been there. I went to Mount Rushmore...the Black Hills...the Badlands" and so on...never actually naming a place in North Dakota. I believe a lot of people lump North and South into one place or forget that there is even a North Dakota. But I was born in North Dakota and lived there until I was 10 years old. And I still have family that lives there.
When I tell them that the places they listed are South Dakota they usually then get the light bulb moment of 4th grade geography lessons coming back and give me a look as if they had just been smacked with a cold wind and ask me if I liked living there. And my answer to them is a resounding happy YES! As a child it was so much fun and that main reason: SNOW. There was so much to do because of the snow in winter - ice skating, snowmobile riding, cross country skiing, sledding, hockey, making snow forts, snow angels, snowballs! And drinking lots of hot chocolate to warm up after playing in the snow!
My parents were involved in lots of organizations in our small small town. And so they had lots of parties and functions to go and many involved the kids coming too. They would hold parties at the local ice skating rink in the winter. It would close down for the evening to be available only to those in organization. We would skate, have good food and hot cocoa mixed with lots of fun and friendship. A family friend of ours had a big cabin on the lake. They had an annual holiday party there. Some of the men would go out ice fishing on the frozen over lake. Their cabin had a big hill next to it that would was perfect for sledding which occupied all the children. There would be a dozen snowmobiles there, cross country skis, snowshoes and everything else would ever need for winter time fun. There was roaring fire in the cabin so you could warm up and dry off before going to the next activity. There was so much laughter and fun. I always looked forward to those parties. More winter fun was had in my neighborhood though too as our block had a lot of kids on it. We were always building snow forts and having snowball fights. I don't have memories with snow that doesn't bring me warm happy feelings.
The holidays in North Dakota always involved snow. I don't recall ever going without a White Christmas when I lived there. My Mom loves Christmas - she decorates, bakes, shares stories and it is just a very special time of love and family. And I know she got that from her Mom. When I was little, we would spend Christmas Eve at my Mom's parents. They lived on a modest but wonderful farm. We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. My Grandparents farmhouse didn't have fireplace and I remember at a very young age worried that Santa wouldn't have a way into the house. Christmas Eve at my Grandparents involved a big homemade dinner with food from taken from our heritage, church after dinner - all dressed up in our Christmas best, then home to read the Christmas Bible story of Jesus' birth, sing some Christmas Carols, open presents and then have snacks and goodies.
My Grandparents attended a small country church that looked like something from a Christmas greeting card with the snow all around it, lights shining through the stain glass windows. Inside the church, it was also picture perfect poinsettias spread through out the church, as well as candles, and then Christmas trees decorated in angel ornaments and white lace garland. The service we would light candles and sing lots of Christmas carols. After the children were given a big bag of sugary hard candies...the old fashioned ribbon candy in bright Christmas colors. Making us all even more hyper then just being excited waiting for Santa's arrival.
My Mom's family is good size that we would take more then one car to church. And so Grandpa would often sneak out early, but as child I NEVER picked up on that. See as a little girl, I would come home to reindeer hoof prints and Santa boot prints in the yard. And more Santa snow boot prints in the house. Cookies that had been set out for Santa would be gone and carrots left for Dasher and Dancer and the rest of the reindeer were half eaten in the yard. And sure enough when I went running into the house there would be presents from Santa under the tree.
It is a wonderful Christmas memory....a favorite memory of mine. And I say mine as my sisters didn't really get to experience it like I did because my Grandfather died at a young age. So I cherish those memories as I am lucky to have known him and lucky to have such a good memory of my Santa.
It's memories like these that set the tone for all of my Christmases. Even though one might forget about those "little things" like Santa's boot prints or the half-eaten carrots in the yard - I'll never forget them. It's these important things, the fact that my Grandfather left church a little early to give his granddaughter something something special and magical.
That's what the season is about. Taking those precious moments to express your love and friendship to someone you care about. Whether it's finding that very special gift, or making a handmade card, the phone call in the middle of the day or the email that just says simply "I love you." It's my way to share how much I love those that I'm surrounded by.
So Christmas time is that special time of year when you just remind them of how wonderful they really are and how they have a special place in my heart that makes me feel the magic of love.
(Photo of me - I think I was about 4.)