Contentment with Snow

I am one of many people on the East Coast of the United States that is longing for winter to be over. I’m not going to say I have it as bad as most, if I lived in Boston I’d need to be institutionalized, but it’s cold and unpleasant. I miss Spring, the warmth of the sun on my bare skin, laying in the grass, resting beneath the oak tree after a three mile run with my husband, taking walks into town in the evening, when the breeze cools to a delicious temperature, just cold enough to make the warmth of my husband’s hand extra special.

The other day, I took a ride with my Grandmother. I sat in the passenger seat, bundled up in three layers of coats and sweatshirts complete with hat, gloves, and scarf. It was just after 9 and the sun was clear and visible through an opening in the trees over a snow-covered corn field.

The sun’s heat combined with the extreme temperatures turned the snow into ice. Every divot and track looked imprinted and almost fake. The yellow sunlight glittered across the surface, chasing us as we drove past the expanse at 45 miles an hour. The white crystal snow appeared to be simultaneously still and moving, like the surface of a lake being tickled by the occasional breeze. The piles of snow dumped haphazardly by plows and shovels now looked like blown glass ornaments.

I am learning contentment, which is not an easy lesson where I live. I try to keep out of stores when I don’t need anything so I’m not tempted to add to my possessions. I also am trying to be content with time, treating each day, each moment, as a gift. So when I crawled into bed the night before with four blankets piled on top of me and whined to my husband about the cold and my desire for spring, I was immediately struck by a truckload of guilt.

“Never mind,” I said. “I need to enjoy what I have right now.”

Timothy smiled at me. “Sometimes when today is hard, it’s okay to look forward to tomorrow.”

That’s my wise husband for you. He’s right, that’s pretty much the definition of hope. But when I looked out over that glassy field, I wasn’t wishing for spring. I wasn’t wishing for anything more than what I had. All I wanted was to slip off one of my gloves and run my finger over the surface of the snow, to feel the cool sting of ice against my warm living flesh.

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When Family Traditions Go Awry

“Oh and I bought canned whipped cream,” my mother-in-law said. “So if you want some on your pie it’s in the kitchen.”

Several happy chirps rang out from the inhabitants of the table. I kept my peace. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and that nasty spray can whipped cream is more sugar than dairy. It actually surprised me that it was even there. My in-laws are healthy eaters. You know the type; organic vegetables, unpasteurized milk, and cereal that tastes like cardboard. When I first came around their family, holding hands with their tall curly haired brunette boy, I was about thirty pounds heavier than I am now. I felt like Bertha Big Butt among the clan of Healthy Stick People. Thankfully they loved me anyway.

Back to present. Once I got over the initial shock of hearing this garbage food item was in the household, someone said, “Can we spray it into our mouths like we used to do at Nani’s?”

Really? I thought. No. No they won’t.

“Sure,” my father-in-law said. “We need to do the two little ones first because they never got to.”

I tugged my husband’s sleeve. “Timmy, is this usual? Like some Thanksgiving tradition that I knew nothing about?”

Tim shrugged. “We used to do it at Nani’s.” Okay love… I’d heard that part.

The can emerged from the kitchen. Apparently Dad was the one to administer, Father’s privilege I guess. I watched them squirt the squishy sugary sticky slop between the open lips of everyone around the table: the two little ones (four and eight), my sister-in-law, Jessica, my brother-in-law, Jon, and then my husband. I knew Mom wasn’t going to partake and Dad held the can so he didn’t have to worry…

“Do you want some Rachel?” Jon asked.

I considered. I knew I didn’t care for the stuff, (I’d had it before) but it’s good to push your boundaries and try things when you have the opportunity, especially when they are unlikely to cause real harm. Besides, what if I die tomorrow. I could see myself lying in my hospital bed, looking into my husband’s tear filled eyes and murmuring in a weak hushed voice, “Now I’ll never know what it is like to have whipped cream sprayed into my mouth.” The heart monitor flatlines. My husband presses his wet eyes to my hand.

“Oh why not,” I said. “You only live once.”

If you can’t understand what I’m saying with my mouth full of whipped cream, I asked, “What do I do now?”

It should have stopped there. We had all been apportioned our share of gross chemical dairy product, but my sister-in-law really wanted to administer some of the delicious whipped treat herself. My brother-in-law, Jon, volunteered. He asked the video to be taken in slow motion. What followed was completely unplanned, impromptu, and all around unscripted. Here it is below. It was well worth the cleanup. 🙂

(and if you listen very closely, you can hear Pinkie, my mother-in-law’s pet stegosaurus, humming Thanksgiving carols in the background)