Okay, so I know this may be hard to believe but we do encourage humility in our household and do try and rein in the egos as we manage our way through whatever we’ve got on in a day. However, I am thinking I do need to put my hand up to something which may have had a huge impact on the world around me. So here I go…you know how we were right on the verge of having a white Christmas in England? Remember pre the winds and the floods right back to the 14th of December? Well, I think I may have to take responsibility for the weather we have been having since then. Yes, on that day, just after I picked up Skyler before collecting Christy on their last day of school ahead of the holidays, we were killing time and I went against my rule of buying a kid a gift 10 days before Christmas (“‘cause you never know what Santa might have already got you and you wouldn’t want to double up on something from your wish list”). Anyway, with Skyler by my side (although I am not blaming him), I… bought him… a snowball thrower. Ssheesh, you say. Why would you tempt Fate that way and jinx the weather out of providing the key element of snowball making and throwing…the snow?! I know, I know, what was I thinking?
So, I wanted to start this post with my confession and apology for such a lapse in judgement and for causing not only the snowless, but incredibly windy and wet Christmas we had in the UK. I am not entirely sure (and according to Ukip I might have to share the ridiculous responsibility with others), but I guess while I’m at it, I will also say sorry for possibly playing a role in causing all the torrents of rain we’ve been battered with over the last month – all because of my snowball thrower purchase. Mark Twain is famous for having commented, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Well, I am afraid I’m not only talking about it, I am fessing up that it might have been me tipping the balance of the cosmos and causing the weather to go so far afoul. Thankfully, however, I think I may have worked out how to fix things. If you can stick with me, I reckon there is hope.
Like many of those of you nearby, with the A25 closed and Brasted under water, I spent a lot of time in my car at the end of last week literally ferrying my kids to and from school. As I splashed my Landrover past the waterfalls gushing from the verges along Chart Lane wishing a polar vortex would freeze them like the Niagara Falls, I cranked up the radio to accompany me through my rides and ended up listening to an inordinate amount of BBC Radio One programming. Apparently they had decided the whole of the UK could do with an attitude adjustment. They were on a mission to cheer us all up from the January blues and they actually had every deejay on each of their shows spreading the mantra that we should all “Be happy!” irregardless of the bills, the soggy return to school and work, and the drought of Bank Holidays on the new year’s calendar with one not to be seen again until the 18th of April. Surprisingly, the campaign was, in fact, fairly effective and, although I am prone to being pretty happy anyway, with each playing of Pharrell Williams’ Happy song I felt more and more inclined to bop along to the catchy tune and follow some of radio station’s top tips for spreading the good feeling. The suggestions included indulging in Laughter Yoga, getting active, enjoying your pets and reaching out to others. I started to imagine all the people I was passing huddled under their umbrellas, bumping into each other and peeking out from underneath to share a smile. I thought about each of us in the confines of our cars and homes reaching out through our FB pages, emails, texts, telephone calls and even good ole fashioned hand written notes and how key those connections are for me and, in deed, how I do feel happier when I am connected to others. And then I considered just how contagious a good feeling can be if we can find a way to share it, letting it multiply and flourish – no matter the weather or whatever may be trying to dampen our spirits.
It came to me then as we wound our way back through waterlogged Kent, how perhaps, if I shared with you all a little story about snow, I might gain the power of the connection with you and, with your help, change the rain to snow and finally fix the mess of weather I had gotten us all into. As cheesy as it sounds, I was thinking of J.M. Barrie’s, “I do believe in fairies. I do! I do.!” and how effective it was at reviving Tinkerbell. I thought that maybe in sharing it with you on Pumpkin Potential it might be just the thing to tip the scales back in our snow favour. So here’s hoping we dry up and chill out soon…without further ado…The Magic of Snow…
At a Christmastime, not too long ago when we were dreaming of white Christmases with treetops glistening with snow instead of rain, we had a true brush with magic. It was the year all of England got snowed in before, during and after Christmas. The year when those who had received hopeful sledges of metal and plastic had had their wishes come true with days on end of long, deep slides up and down the hills and, in fact, high streets of most villages. During much needed stretches between mad present wrapping and opening, resplendent meals of turkey and pumpkin pie, and nestles by the fire, we had enjoyed the snow to the utmost.
My son, Skyler was five that year and in particular could not believe his luck when on the first day the kids were due back to school, it was closed with an overnight snow storm. The excitement furthered when he found even Dad was “stuck” at home and was taking the lead to bundle the whole family up for a mid-morning sledge. We chose to visit a spot along Pipers Lane just beyond a small herd of shaggy, chestnut coloured cattle breathing smoke from their enormous nostrils to a little hilly set of fields rolling out from the woods. Besides the five of us, our Irish Wolfhound, Finn, some how fit in the back of the Land Rover with two flat Wham-o boogie board sleds and a trusty old Radio Flyer with blades you could steer with your feet.
The sound was all but absorbed that day except for the squeak and crunch of our boots in the eight inch snowfall; higher where the wind had gusted the drifts even deeper. Finally, at the top of the biggest hill, away from the trees and the split rail fence that runs along the cattle’s field, we took turns pushing off and enjoying rides all the way to the bottom of the slope.
I remember Skyler had to remove his hat and scarf with the heat of the excursion from pumping his smallest legs up and down the incline when he tugged his sled back up to the summit ready for the next go. Meanwhile, Megan and Nick hunted for the best runs carved out by earlier rides to help them make the most of their sledding momentum as Christy ate the snow she lay in on her back swishing out a snow angel beneath her and admiring the puffed up robins flitting around the hedgerows above her. We were undecided as to whether the control of the Radio Flyer with its guided ride was better than the Wham-o’s reckless speed met face first, stomach down bursting along the crest of the hill. Irregardless of the sled type, Finn chased us each to the bottom and back up again and again nearly jumping on board when he was not almost galloping on top of us. Eventually, when I saw even he was starting to lag, I made a rally cry of, “Time for cocoa!” to get everyone moving on the slow walk back to the car.
Leaving the hill, we found the sledges stuck and slid along haphazardly on their bottoms as we pulled their tethers behind us. Each kid, in turn, tried to talk a parent into pulling them along on top of a sled but was met only with a “No, you are too heavy.” retort. Only divvying out the Polo mints I happened to find in my pocket at timed intervals along the walk seemed to entice everyone to progress down the path back to the car and our home. We were quiet with the best kind of tired in our legs and lungs full of the fresh air and activity.
After such an ideal day of snow and fun, we were certain with no new real accumulation that school would start the following day. Skyler did ask as I put him to bed if I thought it would be possible another school cancellation would greet him in the morning. I felt I needed to manage his expectations so I gently told him I really did not think school would be closed two days in a row on a return from Christmas break. He accepted my assessment, said his prayers including a wish for more snow and then lay back on his pillow, happy with the day we had had and satisfied to get some well earned rest.
The next morning, however, the radio alarm blared with the news that we had received an even thicker coating of snow as we had slept and it was still carrying on in the dawning light. Big, thick feathery flakes floated down and filled our view of the back garden as we listened to announcements of school after school being closed. Nick and I decided to make a cup of tea and sit in bed watching and waiting for the kids to wake up to their surprise. It felt like Christmas morning all over again.
Skyler bounced in first, “Did you see? It’s snowing!”, he exclaimed and lifted the covers to crawl in next to me and watch the storm with a full smile on his face. Christy wandered in next with a blanket hooded over her head. She said the quiet of the house had told her what her blackout curtains had kept as a secret; another snow day was emerging just beyond. Not too long after, Megan, too, came and crawled into our bed, pulling the duvet from our feet to tuck herself in, sleepily grinning at us and the bank of our bedroom windows which by then were giving us all a shook-up-snow-globe display of a winter storm.
Surveying the scene and remembering his prayers, I turned to Skyler and said, “You must have some serious magic in you the way you made the snow come again today.” His response came quickly and with more enchantment then any spell a magician could conjure. He said, without missing a beat, “No, Mommy, I don’t have the magic, God does – he just breaks it up into lots of little pieces.”
So now whether a Christmas is wet or white enough to fulfill even Bing Crosby’s dreams, I remember the magic of this time of year with a nod to the gifts around our tree but even more so for the gift of a child’s ability to appreciate at it all so purely.
All together now…I do believe in snow. I do! I do!…Fingers crossed this does the trick. I’ll keep you posted.