As Christmas is drawing near, I thought that I would write a couple posts about some of my fond Christmas memories.
My family likes to cross-country ski during the Christmas holidays. We will go pretty much every day to a park in the city for an hour or so. Our family’s equipment was purchased years ago from garage sales so it’s old and well worn, but in general it still works well.
I started skiing when I was a child, maybe seven years old. I remember skiing along a path singing Christmas carols with my mom with small fiery red willow trees on either side of me.
As a child, skiing was much more challenging than it is now. In the park in my hometown, there were a couple miniature hills that we would have to ski down. It seemed like every time we would go down these tiny hills, at least one person would fall and end up in a rather awkward position which would get everyone else heartily laughing. We, the kids, being competitive, would have races across fields which usually resulted in someone falling leaving the competition to win by a long ways. No one ever got hurt, but we did have our fair share of tumbles.
When in more of mischievous mood, we would sneak up close behind a sibling and hit the snow-laden branch above his/her head with a ski pole, dumping heaps of snow on them. The person who just got dumped on would then go ahead and hit the branches behind them, heaping snow on their pursuer and getting revenge. It was like a snow heap fight instead of a snow ball fight.
As we got older and had championed the tiny hills, we started to try some bigger hills that were used for sledding. We would climb up the hills and then ski down. Skiing down hills with cross-country skis is difficult. I would usually end up sprawled out at the bottom of the hill on purpose, since I couldn’t stop and was afraid I would plow full force into the trees.
Now, when we go up North for Christmas, we have some amazingly large hills to ski up and down. Going up is purgatory. I attempt to dig my skis in and make a skating pattern uphill, but usually end up slipping, falling, and in a very uncomfortable position in danger of sliding all the way back down the hill. At this point, I endeavour to remove my skis and if I succeed, I continue by walking up the hill. Going uphill is a great work out though. If you don’t have sweat going all the way through your parka after conquering a hill, the hill wasn’t big or steep enough. Going down these phenomenal hills is equally as challenging, but in a different way. Skiing down is one of the most adrenaline pumping things I have done. Imagine, I’m at the top of a steep 100 m hill. The path I’m on is about 6 feet across with large trees and forest on either side. Near the bottom of the hill is a sharp turn. I start going down and because my skis are old, don’t have very good edges, and the brakes are pretty worn off the bottoms, I’m just a flying as I’m trying to do a small snow plow. All my senses are engaged, I don’t have time to have my life flash before my eyes. The sharp turn is coming. Will I make it or plow into the trees? Should I fall down now to avoid potential disaster? My knees are shaking, I try to keep them bent, but my body is tense. My upper body is leaning forward, my butt is sticking out, and my legs are slightly bent. I’m at the turn, somehow, I manage to make it at the last minute and am safe for now, but desperately need to slow down.
You may be wondering, “Why on Earth would you do such a silly thing?” The short answer is: I have siblings. It’s amazing what peer pressure even as an adult between siblings can do.
For example, my eldest brother suggests, “Hey, let’s go down this super steep hill with a sharp turn at the end. It’ll be fun and there’s a nice path down there.”
Other siblings: “Sure, let’s go.”
Me (Getting nervous), “Ah… I don’t know, maybe I should just meet you all back at home.”
Everyone else: “Come on Jane, it’ll be fun.” Off they go, leaving me to follow. All my siblings are going down this crazy steep hill. I don’t want to be the only one to be “chicken,” so I’m going to go too.
Now that the family is growing and some of the adults will have young children on their backs when we go skiing this year, I dare say that I hopefully won’t have to go through this terrifying experience again for a while.