Winter, 1969. New York City
A blizzard’s eerie silence overshadowed the distant honking and revving engines from the usual Saturday night car races. I remember my dad’s contagious laugh echoing through our apartment hallway after he promised to build the biggest snowman our neighbors had ever seen, if I hurried off to bed. He always said New Yorkers thrived on being outside in frigid temperatures and most didn’t mind driving on slick, icy roadways. If I close my eyes I can see snow covered streets and hear enthusiastic voices calling my name. These are a few of my earliest childhood memories that come and go like ghosts of white winters past.
Mom and dad
My mother would politely interrupt dad with her own native New Yorker commentary. “Only a crazy person would drive in this weather—unless they’re on their way to the hospital to have a baby or visit their dying mother. Why would anyone tempt God like that, otherwise?”
My father had a way of melting her heart with his smile. He’d tell a joke, and then let her rave on while they snuggled on the couch to watch Bob Hope or Andy Williams on our new nineteen-inch black and white television.
She’d reach her hands up toward the ceiling and end her rant with something like, “God forbid if our family was stuck out there in the cold. There isn’t a thing we need that we don’t already have right here.” She’d proceed to thank God, His son Jesus, and then added Mary, Joseph, St. Jude, and a few other saints in the mix as a sort of
I didn’t get it, but that was my mom. She prayed every day and believed God heard her prayers. She taught my sister and I to pray too—Although I was the rebel who only prayed to God and Jesus. The cherry on top people didn’t matter much to me. I went straight to the boss and His VP, especially when I needed an answer to a special prayer, like; “Dear God, can you please make a mountain of snow tonight so my sissy can stay home from school and build a snowman with me?”
The next morning, I (and a gazillion kids from all five boroughs) screamed with joy when the weatherman announced schools would most likely close for a week.
The importance of sledding, building, and slurping
I remember, after much sledding, snowman building, and hot chocolate slurping, my sister and I often sat by our bedroom radiator after bath time to warm our feet and hands. Once warm and toasty, we moved closer to our picture window to count snowflakes and the few rouge stars peeking out from the clouds at dusk, then t
Music, American History, and. . . fairytales?
A Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley tune played in the distance, my mother’s humming melded with the sounds of running water and rattling dishes. And yet, I loved this imperfect perfect winter lullaby.
Every night, my father’s rendition of American History stories or my mother’s fairytales unfolded as my sister and I lay snug in our beds. I believe that’s when my story took flight. I dreamt vivid dreams of fantastic worlds covered in fluffy blankets of snow; all the while knowing God was our warmth in the cold.
To this day on frigid January nights, I revisit that house, if only in my mind. It’s such a beautiful part of my story. I piece together the sounds, the sights, and the memories—Now all ghosts of white winters past.
The rollercoaster we call life
When I think back to those days, I feel an unexplainable peace, comfort, and warmth that comes from the love of
What ifs and more memories to come
And now let’s fill in the blanks: W— i- the process of recalling the best of the past can bring healing to the present?
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Furthermore, what if we choose to live mindfully, contemplating the things that matter, not only to ourselves but the things that matter to The Giver of every season of our lives?
Might this honesty open our eyes to the real matters of life?
I believe God wants us to let his light shine on our best memories, especially those of ghosts of white winters past.
~ Happy Anniversary in heaven mom and dad. ~
Do you have fond memories of white winters past? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.