For the first 22 years of my life I lived in a place that had snow all winter long, for most of those 22 years anyways. Sometimes flurries or snowstorms would arrive as early as October and surprise us as late as May. As a kid we would watch on weekday mornings as the ticker at the bottom of the television screen listed off the schools that were closed. Even a two hour late start would be a worthy cause for celebratory cheers.
Worn in flannel shirts would be slipped on and then covered with scratchy woolen sweaters. Snow pants with the knees worn out would be pulled out of storage and winter boots tried on to see if they still fit. Mittens and gloves, soaked through after an afternoon of play, would lay out to dry for the next morning.
It did not matter that the sun set early because by the time the sleds had been stowed away and the carrot nose poked into the snowman, we were ready for hot chocolate and a movie anyways. Despite the below-zero temperatures outside, everything always felt cozier and warmer in the winter.
One holiday led to another. Halloween costumes were customized in order to fit winter coats and warm pants beneath tutus and superhero capes. Before we even had time to finish our candy the first flurries would arrive and pies would sit baking in the oven for Thanksgiving dinner. Cinnamon and nutmeg perfumed the house while decorations of burnt orange, yellow, and red replaced smiling jack-o’-lanterns. As the temperatures continued to drop the snow began to accumulate. The first few snowmen would have a few straggling leaves rolled into the mass as we struggled to find enough snow in the yard to make a snowman we could see eye to eye with.
And then we had given thanks and the handprint turkeys were tucked away to be replaced with a porcelain nativity scene. Patchwork stockings were hung from the mantel and the Christmas village laid out. The yellow brick house at the end of the row of buildings, the ice skating rink in the middle. Garlands of multicolored lights were untangled and checked for burnt out bulbs before being wrapped around and around the year’s chosen tree. Beloved ornaments, forgotten over the last eleven months, were rediscovered and given coveted spots on the tree. Handmade ones strung up next to heirlooms.
Winter here is a little different. Instead of snow, there is rain. Instead of bitingly cold, crisp morning walks there is the unrelenting dampness. There are no sleds and the carrots are eaten in stews, not saved for snowmen. The mittens are still damp and find a place in front of the wood-burning stove to return to their dry, woolly selves . Some people here think I am crazy for wanting to return home during the coldest Minnesota months but I can’t think of any time I would rather visit.
All this to say, our tickets are purchased, we are coming to the Midwest this winter! Fañch and I will fly over with Lewis in mid-December. Fañch will fly home at the end of the month and early in the New Year his parents will fly over to join Lewis and I (there was much juggling when it came time for me to buy everyone’s tickets). In all, Lewis and I will be there for nearly five weeks and I could not be more excited! There will certainly be lots of running around, visiting our favorite spots and more importantly, our favorite people! I am starting to plan out our trip so please don’t hesitant to reach out if you’d like to hang out, build a snowman together, join us at the Children’s Museum, bake Christmas cookies, you get the idea!