Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter and the Holiday Season...puts me in the spirit!

This winter marks my fourth in the city. And still it never ceases to amaze me. The weather goes up and down, round and round, all within a matter of days. Last year's winter was one of the worse I've ever seen in my life, and I started this winter thinking about that fact and caught myself cringing.

The Windy City definitely becomes crazy...where people look like night ninjas as they wrap themselves from head to toe to protect themselves and defeat their foe, Weather. As the day begins and ends, you see Chicagoans bustling up to the bus and el stops with nothing but their eye balls showing. You remember in "National Lampoons Christmas Vacation," where Audrey's eyelashes/eyes get frozen as the Griswold family hunts for the perfect Christmas tree? Yeah, that actually happened last winter. Your eyes froze open and your eyelashes were mini icicles of tears. Pedestrians protect their feet with humongous, furry boots to keep any snow from touching their socked feet. The shelves at Walgreens and CVS are out of stock for hand warmers. Everyone is on MISSION: HYPOTHERMIA HATERS.

But boy do the electric and gas companies love Chicago weather...where they literally reap rewards far greater than you could imagine. Sky rocketing bills each month to protect against the cold. Being that I had steam heat for the past 3 winters, paying the gas bill this year will be interesting, especially since I have 2 fully exposed walls and no insulation in the building.

I shouldn't complain as my friends in Minne-Paul get weather far worse and extensive than Chicago; however, Chicago winter sucks.

But there are the positives. The first snow fall looks like shredded coconut making a humongous cake for us all to devour with pleasure. The pure white that first morning makes you want to throw on a snow suit, make snow angels, build a snow man and sip hot cocoa. Our family dogs, which we've termed "The Boys," run around the yard flicking mini puffs of snow up with their noses and trying to eat all the falling flakes. If I could take the entire winter off to watch The Boys play all day in the snow, I would. Seeing them happy and carefree turns me jealous to the overworked, hyper-stressed individual that I appear to be today.

Winter should bring back your childlike outlook on life. How quickly things change and to enjoy the beauty and magic that this season brings.

As a tribute to the child we've all lost, I want to tell a story that I still remember to this day and doubt I will every forget. Three winters ago, I was home in Decatur for the holiday. My dad and I needed to do some final Christmas shopping for my mom and grandma. We ended up running to the mall before it closed. As we parked our SUV in the lot and got out, we fell in step behind a younger dad and his daughter. The little girl appeared to be about five or six and wore a pink puffy jacket with a white faux fur collar. She had a tassle pink polka dot scarf and mittens that matched her jacket.

The snow was falling that night and looked beautiful against the almost set sun. The little girl looked up at her dad with an awestruck smile and asked, "You know what Daddy?" Her dad looked down at her with a patient and loving smile and asked "What?" She looked back up toward the sky and raised one of her cute, little, gloved hands and answered, "The snow looks like sugar falling down from heaven." With that, her dad swooped her up in a hug and propped her on his hip.

I looked at my dad with a huge smile and whispered that that was the cutest thing I've ever heard. He said, "You know, Cissy, kids have the purest outlook on life and make you see things in a way you never would have." While I've never had a maternal instinct in my life, that was one of the very few moments I've wanted children...just to experience those cute little quips that kids have. I know I used to look at life so pure, verses jaded.

My Christmas spirit is bounding uphill each day as we get closer to the 25th. Our family has been through a lot this year, and I have many blessings and things to be thankful for. Next steps are to await the sheet music to our Christmas Service at church and go caroling drunk off of Irish hot chocolate. Now THAT's the way to get in the holiday spirit.

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