I don’t really believe in New Year resolutions or those Bucket Lists either, but I guess if I were to drop dead today I’d be content. More or less. Well, you know, within reason.
I realized this right around the time my eight-year-old did a face-plant in the snow while we were skiing yesterday. Jon went down with a heavy “Ugghh.” The snow flew. “You okay?” I said, looking back. “Yeah,” Jon said. “Good,” I said.
I mean, when you live in Africa most of the year, and only get back to see snow once every five or so years, these sorts of things take on new meanings.
“Keep this in your memories,” is how My Bride put it while we drove up the snowy road, trees covered, ground covered, everything white, on our way to the ski lodge. She had to stop the car to take a photo.
A couple of days before that we were skating at the Dundas Driving Park and Jon said the same thing. He saw a maple leaf frozen under the clear ice and asked if we could carve out the ice chunk and bring it back to our home in Africa. He’d put it in his room. Anything is possible when you’re 8.
Not long before that we had gone sledding down what must surely be the winter world’s biggest hill. It’s in Thorold, just minutes from where I grew up, a hill that’s part of an old historic estate home, the same snow covered hill I had last gone down 35 years earlier.
Hannah is now, I bet, the only Ugandan girl to ever fly down it, the only black girl to ever wipe-out in a pink snow coat and roll in laughter at the bottom. During another moment, Liz raced down. I stood at the bottom and watched her long blonde hair flying behind her, smile as big as the ocean. And I got that same feeling of contentment. From this hill, to, somehow, Africa, and back, 35 years later, with these laughing kids. Huh.
At the Hamilton Bulldogs game, we sat with friends (thank you Scott Radley) at ice level, just three rows up. When Mike Blunden, the game’s first star, skated past us after the game and tossed a puck over the glass to My Bride (it was to Jean, no, don’t tell Jean otherwise, it was meant for her), it came within inches of her outstretched hands before landing in someone else’s, all another moment that will be later laughed about during some future Christmas storytelling.
So now it’s Day 15 of this Out of Africa and Into Canada Christmas experience for us. Just a few more to go.
And all along we’ve kept telling the kids that they don’t realize how lucky they are to have snow (let alone Ice Storm 2013 at Papa and Gramma’s in Toronto) to walk into, to taste, to feel in their very bones. Many a December day in southern Ontario can be otherwise.
But I have to say, it’s been good for Ol’ Dad too. Because while children make memories without even knowing it, the rest of us relive them, even the memories from our wintery pasts, the ones that are often reclaimed and re-imagined because this is what we sometimes need to do, because it’s what makes us well, it’s what makes our souls well, especially when we’re otherwise far away.
It’s in this where there is a certain holiness in this season, a season that is still, at its best, a reminder of how life is meant to be lived, not as a series of thrills to be experienced and checked off a list before we kick the so-called bucket — the bucket kicking will come too soon and the list will remain too long — but just in simple thanks for the moment.
Like with kids in the snow.