For my three sons, snow on the ground is synonymous with Christmas. With both sets of grandparents and extended families in Chicago, the 800-mile trek up north has become an annual holiday tradition.
Of course, seeing family and getting gifts tops their “things I’m excited about” list, but getting a chance to play in the snow is a close third. And most of the time, Mother Nature complies with their wishes.
Last year she dumped nearly two feet of snow on Christmas Eve. Armed in boots, a stocking cap, gloves and a rigid snow suit in which he can barely move his arms — resembling little Randy Parker from “The Christmas Story” — our 3-year-old Jackson rushed out into the snow and plopped on the ground. After experimenting with making snow angels, throwing snowballs and sampling what snow tastes like, it was time to complete the family task: building a snowman.
With the help of grandpa, we built a 3-foot snowman, which to no surprise the boys named Frosty. Jackson was pretty protective of Frosty. He didn’t want anyone else to touch his creation, and was especially mad when his brother started throwing snowballs at the snowman. When it was time to head in for hot cocoa, Jackson didn’t want to leave Frosty alone, perhaps waiting for him to come to life.
He kept a close eye on his snowman from grandma’s patio door and living room window, taking a break from playing every few minutes to make sure Frosty was OK. He hesitated to join the family for Christmas Eve church service, worried that someone might attack his snowman in his absence. He feared going to bed — even with the promise that Santa Claus was coming — because he was worried that Santa would kick his snowman. We assured him that Santa wouldn’t do that.
Then he expressed concern that the reindeer would knock over Frosty. We assured him that Rudolph’s red nose would spot the snowman and Frosty would be safe. Indeed, Frosty would survive Christmas Eve, but Santa’s presents shifted Jackson’s attention on Christmas morning.
His first memory of Christmas was much more snow-filled than Jaydon’s. Then an only-child, the promise of snow on the ground was his motivating factor taking the 15-hour drive. When we pulled into grandma and grandpa’s driveway, he was elated to see snow on the ground — albeit a little patch of snow no more than a half-inch deep. As we unbuckled him, he jumped out of his car seat not to race to the front door, but to jump on the tiny patch of snow at the edge of the driveway.
Every time we went outside the house, he would race to the edge of the driveway to stand in the tiny patch, which shrunk each day during the unseasonably warm weather. Mother Nature eventually changed the winter warm weather to sub-freezing temperatures — too cold to snow — transforming that tiny patch to ice.
As we ready the family for the trip, our boys have recalled their vivid memories of last year’s snowfall. We assure them there will be snow during our visit. We’re hoping Mother Nature complies.