We have a tradition for the “First Snow” of the year. The first time snowflakes appear in the sky — no matter how miniscule — we light a fire in the fireplace, get out our snowman mugs from Grandma and Grandpa and have hot chocolate with marshmallows, make chocolate chip cookies, and listen to “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!”
So wonderful, in fact, that by popular demand the practice seems to be expanding to other snow-related events. After the “First Snow” the kids thought we should similarly honor the “First Real Snow” of the year, distinguished from the “First Snow” by volume and ground cover. So when we got our “First Real Snow” once again hot cocoa flowed and cookies baked.
Then came along the “Roof Top Covering” contest with our extended family. This is one of those family traditions of indeterminate origin. It began years ago when us kids started leaving home and scattering across the country. It was probably initiated by my snow-crazed sister who lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the annual snow fall averages approximately 20 feet — I repeat: FEAT — and I’m not exaggerating for humor. Really, though, she enjoys all four seasons: Ski, After Ski, Waiting for Ski, and Preparing for Ski.
Anyway, the “Roof Top Covering” competition started sometime after all us siblings hied to varied habitations hither and yon. Everyone tries to guess when the first snow will occur that covers the rooftop in their designated locale. Originally it was the Sibs and Rents (as in Siblings and Parents), but then the field of contestants enlarged to include spouses and then enlarged again to our present conglomeration of some 40 persons when the nieces and nephews began throwing their hats in the ring. The winner gets a trophy supplied and mailed to them by the Chief Rent (my mom).
For my kids the “Roof Top Covering” provides yet another discrete snow event perfect for commemorating with hot chocolate and cookies.
Then just before Thanksgiving there came the weather forecast for the first blizzard of the year. The weatherman delivered this exciting news Sunday with the snow projected to start Tuesday afternoon. That Monday the grocery was a madhouse with everyone scrambling to re-provision their milk and bread stores, which only added to the excitement. Then Tuesday arrived. It was the last day of school before Thanksgiving break and the snow was supposed to start before school let out. Anticipation reached Rocky Mountain highs.
But that afternoon when I picked the kids up from school there was still no snow. We checked the forecast again. Kick-off time for commencement of the snow event had been pushed back to 5. Well, we had some extracurriculars that night so maybe we’d have a Winter Wonderland for the way home.
But that evening when our sports were done there was still no snow. All night as we moved through dinner and baths the kids kept going to the windows to peer out and check, hoping to coax snow from the sky by sheer desire. To no avail. By prayer time there still was no snow. Then everyone got tucked into bed, I did our bedtime reading, and still the bare brown grass was unadorned by glistening snow. But now everyone was resigned to the vagaries of the meteorological sciences. They were tucked cozy and warm into bed, the house was dark and quiet, and tomorrow started Thanksgiving break. All began to drift off, a trifle disappointed, but content.
I headed for bed myself and looked out one last time before turning in. And even as I gazed into the night, it hit. I saw snow come suddenly in droves! It was a blizzard indeed, an Abominable Bumble of a snow, a snow worthy of a Christmas clay-mation adventure. It was exactly the amazing sight the kids had been waiting to see.
I knew they’d love it, but I admit, I hesitated. Rouse a bunch of cozily ensconced kids presently hovering on the edge of sleep? But on the other hand, it was a special occasion, which they had been looking forward to, and there was no school tomorrow. And after all, bedtimes are made to be broken. (Sometimes.)
So I went and told the kids: “The snow started!”
Blankets were thrown off and PJ clad youngin’s came a-runnin’. We all went into the dark living room and opened the curtains wide.
It was gorgeous. A million snowflakes flew in every direction. Snow was already clinging to tree branches and road signs and was so thick it obscured the streetlamps so they looked like glowing orbs of luminescent snow. It was the perfect night to dream of angels in the sky and kings riding camels across mysterious lands in search of an ancient prophecy.
We kept a long watch and by the time everyone was back under their blankets the snow was deep on the ground.
It was a wonderful start to a wonderful Thanksgiving of feasting, games, playing in the snow, and relaxing by the fire.
Then Saturday we talked about Advent starting tomorrow and what we’d do to get ready for it, and suddenly the kids remembered that we’d forgotten to celebrate the First Blizzard with hot chocolate and cookies and thought we better attend to that before moving on to Advent.
I demurred. We live in Minnesota, I explained, so if we were to start commemorating every atmospheric event that involves snow with cookies and cocoa, we’d end up on an all Nestlé diet that would turn us all into marshmallows.
Then the 5-year-old piped up: “Well, tomorrow Advent starts, so we have to celebrate Advent Eve.”
And, though a careful examination of the liturgical calendar failed to reveal a canonically sanctioned feast day for “Advent Eve” (maybe it’s on the old calendar), I acquiesced. Bedtimes are made for breaking and calendars are made for scribbling in new occasions for celebration.
So I hope everyone had a great Advent Eve and has a wonderful Ski Season! It is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
Copyright 2019 Jake Frost