It is time for another Writers Workshop over at MamaKat’s totally excellent and fun blog. I love these workshops and visiting all the posts because everyone takes such a different approach to the same prompts. This time, I’m choosing the prompt:
2. Describe a favorite winter memory.
Before I start, I want to direct your attention to the giveaway I am running right now. You could win a $20 Target gift card. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the information is here! There is also a Children’s Book Quiz in the post if that is your cup of tea!
As I was thinking today about this prompt, I realized that one of my all-time favorite winter/Christmas memories was the Christmas that my family skipped all our regular Christmas traditions — tree, presents, stockings, dinner — and went away for the holiday to a little cabin in the mountains. (We were living in Montana at the time.)
All of us kids were old enough that my parents didn’t have to pretend about the Santa thing anymore. The plan was to go cross country and downhill skiing all weekend. But the weather didn’t cooperate, and we were stuck in the little cabin for three days. Now I know this sounds like a recipe for disaster, and it usually would have been — three days of my family in close quarters typically results in the silent treatment, the screaming treatment, tantrums, quarrels and the like. But this year the Christmas spirit must have graced us because we had one of the best times as a family ever.
We had brought some movies with us — a lot of movies. And we watched them all, and they all were fantastic. Have you ever watched a bunch of movies in a row and they all seem perfect? Well, it was like that. We had something like 10 movies, and each one seemed better than the next. The two highlights that stick in my mind were Amazon Women on the Moon (a spoof of 1950s sci-fi movies interspersed with comedy sketches) and Saving Grace (a movie in which the newly elected pope is accidentally locked outside the Vatican). These movies could not be more different, but they made sense to watch together at the time. I think we may have watched Amazon Women on the Moon two or three times — and each time it seemed funnier than the last. I remember my father laughing so hard that tears ran down his cheeks. It was great. (In retrospect, I realize we must have all had a case of cabin fever but it was wonderful, delirious laugh til you cry cabin fever.)
Although we didn’t get presents that year, we did have presents to open from a relative who was notorious for giving really awful Christmas presents. Each year, we anticipated how bad the year’s selection of gifts might be, and this year was the year to top them all. For my brothers, there were rainbow suspenders a la Mork and Mindy. Aside from being fashion-backward even in the mid-1980s, the suspenders were made for grown men who were 6 feet tall — not my 4-foot tall pre-teen brothers. For me, there was a little “fuzz buster” to remove lint from sweaters — just what all young teenage girls long for! And the best gift of all was the big “family” gift — a gigantic magnet shaped like a refrigerator that was to go on your refrigerator. The “amazing” thing about it was that it had a little tape recorder in it with one of those tiny little tapes like you used to find in answering machines so you could record messages for other members of your family. What made it so bad was that there was a price tag on it — the relative had paid $65 for this useless thing. We laughed at these presents until we were sick.
It doesn’t sound like much — a lot of movies, some bad presents — but my memory of the camaraderie and laughter my family shared during those three days in the cabin remain one of my most prized family memories — eclipsing all the other holidays that were “picture perfect.” I think it is something to remember as we run around making ourselves crazy during this holiday season — sometimes the best holidays are the ones that aren’t picture perfect but are just about being together.
Happy Holidays — and may you find the love and laughter that I remember so fondly from my favorite winter memory.