Sometimes the simplest joys are the most memorable. My friend Cindy Miller recalls with fondness a family tradition as part of our Christmas Memories series. Perhaps reading her story will conjure up your own favorite Christmas memory.
Visiting my grandparent’s pond was what I looked forward to most at Christmas. My sisters and I always hoped it would be snowy and cold enough for the pond to freeze, yet the roads would be safe for travel.
Getting to my grandparents’ house was an adventure in itself! The snow on their country road would be plowed so that it would be one lane, with snow piled higher than our car on both sides. Just what every child loves to go through — a tunnel of snow! The drifts in the fields looked like Lake Michigan waves of water, all frozen and sparkly.
When we arrived at Grandma’s, all the cousins were also excited to go out into the snow. But first, the parents reminded us, we had to eat Christmas dinner before we could be released to the out-of-doors.
After dinner, the women started washing dishes and telling stories as the men helped clear the tables so that they could play cards.
Then the bundling up ritual began. First grandpa had to get out some of his big overalls to put over our clothes so we would stay warmer than just our jeans we had changed into. The overalls were always well worn and no matter how many of us there were, there would be enough. Second, someone had to go down and shovel off the pond because there was usually snow on it. Usually it was my dad, looking like Frosty the Snowman! He had on his black hat, made of a heavy wool material with a brim and a dent in the middle. In his mouth was his pipe and he had his long overcoat on. Dad would slide around in his black dress shoes and shovel at the same time. It was quite the act and we thoroughly enjoyed it!
Dad used a wide silver shovel and would shovel a pattern in the snow and then work a path here and a little path there. Sometimes dad would do a twirl and we never knew if it was on purpose or he was keeping his balance.
The ice would be very smooth unless it had recently rained and then refrozen on the pond. When that happened, it would be bumpy – like goose bumps all over the ice. We still skated! We raced down to the pond, through the woods and down a hill. Once there, we put on our skates and step gingerly out onto the ice. It was fun to stomp our skates as if to listen for cracks — even though dad had been all over the pond by now. I remember a few times when we’d hear or see a slight crack and we would all scream. But that didn’t stop us from skating! Usually the boy cousins came down to the pond but not to skate. They had other adventures in mind. The boys would go over to the marshy areas of the pond to see if animals like beavers or muskrats had made their home in the tall marsh grass and twigs.
After we had tired ourselves out, we’d head back up the hill and tromp into my grandparent’s house to warm up before the fireplace. The best of Christmas memories.
Thanks to Ingrid for inviting me to write a Christmas memory on her site. I am a beginner on the writing adventure and I’m enjoying the journey. I live with my husband in the wooded rolling hills of Middlebury, Indiana. We are “empty-nesters” with grown children, young grandchildren that live two hours away and two very character-filled dogs. My hobbies are photography, reading and writing down stories of my life. ~ Cindy
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