Friday, December 26, 2008

Snow Days Remind Us To Slow Down . . . Christmas Day MY Turn in Clackamas County Weekly Oregonian newspaper

(A shorter version of this was originally published in the Clackamas County Weekly section of The Oregonian newspaper, 12-25-08)

I love these snow days home with kids.

Since the start of the winter storm that hit Portland area Sunday, I have been loving this time of forced slow down for us.

Initially, when the storm hit Sunday, I had a very busy week ahead, with church and a Christmas Tea and a concert and parent helping at school and Christmas concerts and holiday events. But, beginning with Sunday, I bowed out of all of them and most were eventually canceled anyway. I was thrilled for the change of pace. Somehow, I breathed easier.

Every day, my grade school children have been watching the Television to see if school is canceled, and they wait till the W’s to come across the screen; they want to see it over and over again: “West Linn-Wilsonville School District closed.”

What is funny is that they have known the night before as it was texted to my older high school son’s cell phone and we have checked online.

But, my children were so excited anyway to see it on screen. These days off have been so fun for them. And for me.

I remember growing up in southeast Portland and how thrilled I used to get having snow days. Back then, it didn’t seem like they announced the closures of school until the actual school morning, so we’d get up early as usual and turn on the TV or radio to find our school mentioned as closed. The buzz was memorable.

And, now, I get to experience this time with my own children. Each day home with them is a new adventure. It’s been great getting all bundled up in our snow pants and jackets and gloves and scarves and boots, and getting the sleds out to go play in the snow. We have been walking down our street and we see other people out walking with their children in the snow. And on Highway 43, we have seen people strolling, a cup of Starbucks in their hands and grocery bags in their arms, meandering up and down the street.

Generally, in this area, you rarely see people out walking, but this week, people are forced to, and I enjoy it. It is what makes a community. You meet new neighbors when you walk places. And, you see parents talking to their children.
Someone asked me if I am going crazy having the kids home this week and I said, though sometimes I pull out my hair when they fight, I am truly enjoying this time.

We have made cinnamon rolls together and roll-out Christmas cookies. We have walked to neighbors’ houses and stopped for a cup of coffee and hot chocolate at Starbucks and gone sledding and walked to the park. We have played card games and watched Christmas movies and had tea with neighbors.

I have heard people worry that they are not getting their Christmas shopping done as they would have this week due to the road conditions, but I say, exactly. Simplify. Cut back. Do our children really need all the material items we were going get?
The memories we are making with your children is a much greater gift. It’s one big adventure the week before Christmas. Something different. Something out of the ordinary. Schedules melting away to a more simpler existence. Allowing ourselves to relax and not be so busy. Being closer to home together means slowing down together.

And, that is exactly what Christmas season is about. Slowing down. Taking time to bake with our children. Taking time to have tea with friends. Taking time to walk places.

The snow storm happening so close to Christmas is a good reminder that we should slow down not just when we have to. But because we want to. Indeed, because we need to.

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