Where do I start when I have so many memories of childhood winters?
There's the time my mom went sledding with us. She thought it would be cool to build a ramp for the sleds to launch off of...and it was...until she cracked her tailbone and had to sit on an inflatable donut for two weeks.
There's the time that she surprised us by building a snow dragon. It was creative and amazing, and I wonder if any of us still have a picture of it...
One winter we had so much snow that we didn't need sleds. We built our own luge tracks and slid down them in our snowsuits.
Or there was winter when my brother built an igloo out of packed snow. My sister and I built a fort next to it and we bombarded each other with snowballs. Our fort fell, but his igloo only lost the roof.
And since it's New Year's Eve, how about a memory related to that? It doesn't have much to do with snow, but it has a great deal to do with what made my childhood winters so special: my family.
For many years, my father took on a second job in addition to running the family farm. Our little dairy farm wasn't very lucrative, and when you add three kids into the mix, a second income was a necessity. So, my dad worked at a local manufacturing plant where they made the plastic parts used in vacuum cleaners.
It was a horrible job. I think his blood pressure took quite a beating during the time when he worked there. The only positive was the year-end bonus.
In the grand scheme of things, I think my family would have been better off with a cash bonus, but as a child, this was better: a $50 gift certificate to the local grocery store.
Did we spend it on milk and eggs? Absolutely not. On December 31, Dad would take the certificate in and spend it all on our New Year's Eve party. He would stock up on everyone's favorite junk foods and sodas. The grocery store hosted a movie rental section, so he'd grab enough movies to make it past midnight. And every New Year's Eve, the five of us would pig out, watch movies (pausing only for the ball drop over Time's Square), and prompt each other into staying awake long enough to ring in the new year.
We may not have always had much in terms of the material things, but I learned from a very early age that material things don't matter as much as having the love of your family and having memories of good times with them.
Happy New Year. May everyone find 2011 to be a year of happy memories...