Sugar & Spice, Winter & Ice

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There is nothing that I love more than winter in Salt Lake City. There’s something about the snow that brings the entire place to life. Maybe it’s the fact that there are so many winter activities to do here: skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing. Or the fact that the log cabins with green roof and window shutters pop out in the white backdrop. Or Sundance and Park City, towns so quaint in the winter time you swore you were in a dated movie. Or is it just the mountains? The peaks all shined and pines all glazed with ice crystals and flakes to remind you that The Grinch is off contemplating his next Christmas to ruin.

Or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t really remember a winter before the ones I had in Utah growing up. I remember one, in Texas, many years ago. A storm dropped a total of 2 inches of snow and the schools were closed for days. Not a car was caught dead driving around our neighborhood. We lived at the top of a hill on both sides, so as soon as the temperature dropped low enough to snow in Texas you knew it was a clean sheet of ice down either hill side. But that didn’t bother the kids. I bundled up as much as I could to join my brother outside sliding on plastic trash can tops down the hill. I lasted maybe 5 minutes before I had to come back inside to take a bath and warm my numb feet again. This happened 3 or so times before my mother decided it was best I didn’t go outside after my brother. I had to have been 5 years old. A classic “Christmas Story” image comes to mind.

That’s really the only memory I had of winter time before Utah. I do remember my first year here though. It snowed 12 feet. I was making crazy tunnels and snowmen, atomic snowballs, ice slides. My childhood dogs, Gretal and Schnitzel, stood a foot off the ground with their Dachshund legs and would plow through the snow one minute, and hop like deer the next. I was out there every single day, yet somehow I wasn’t nearly as cold as before. Despite the altitude, it was bearable. And the schools never closed. Not once. Any time I thought there was a chance, the plows would come rushing through at 5 in the morning and the main streets would all be clear. You’d hear the crunch of salt beneath your shoes wherever you went, and the wind made you bundle up, and the ice forced you to scrape your windshield while you blasted heat from the inside. But Utah made me love the winter time.

Every Christmas would have a light snowfall and everything would be so utterly silent. It was the most peaceful and serene experience. You would walk outside with hot chocolate and hum your breath through your nose to see the steam. You would get snowflakes on your lashes as they floated to the ground. You would hear Robins chirping in the crisp morning air, and smell the pine trees. Every now and then as the sun hit the roof, you would hear the crackle of icicles melting away. Everything about it gives me a sense of security.

I’ve always had this idea of “home”. Somewhere where you feel rooted, and happy, and at peace. Where nothing from the outside world can disturb you. And as this winter is starting to take effect here in Utah, I’m starting to make a mental list of things I need in order to create my “home”. Things I didn’t really notice I needed before. I’m starting to indulge in the cup of hot cocoa daily, even though it warms up outside on occasion and the snow is currently melting revealing a “still fall” looking painting. I’m also turning on the fire place daily, which my dogs have been really taking a like to. As soon as the heat creeps its way out my dogs are instantly snuggled up by it, sleeping the day away. And I hung my wreath up on my door way too soon to be considered a normal human being but I was so excited for the idea of a cold snowy holiday that I just couldn’t help myself.

And the funny thing is, I could care less about gifts and black Friday specials. I will never understand the insanity people feel when Christmas time is a month away. Yes, I got a few things for the people I care about, but I didn’t take out a bank loan in order to do it. That’s not what it’s about. This will be the first Christmas without my grandfather. And although I don’t believe in prayer, I will be sad to know that no prayer will be said at the dinner table by my own “Santa Clause”. But that only means that this Christmas will mean more by just being with my family. Honestly, there is no gift that I could ever give anyone that could overcome the feeling of love and laughter in the company of family. I would give up every gift I’ve ever been given just to say I got to spend the holiday drinking and being merry with those I hold dear, because what else would you rather be doing?

For Thanksgiving, I was invited to one of my restaurant regular’s houses. And I had a complete blast. And they enjoyed themselves the exact way my family would have and probably did on Thanksgiving day. It was so refreshing to see other people just enjoying company and telling jokes and having a good time together. I think a lot of us have completely lost sight of the idea that really there’s no reason why Christmas time or any holiday should be so stressful. It should be fun, it should be relaxing, it should be that refreshing break you needed.

This year my family isn’t even really getting together on Christmas. We are going to Disneyland instead. Next week. My parents, my brother and I. 66, 61, 30, and 25 – and we are going to Disneyland. Just the four of us. And I can’t think of what I would rather get as a gift than to just go somewhere and spend some intimate time with my parents and brother. There’s no other way I would rather spend the holiday. And at least at Disney, no one will judge our immature behavior as we act as giddy as the next 5 year old girl in front of life sized Disney characters.

After everything. After all of the shit I’ve been through in the past few years. After the mental abuse, and recovering, and discouraging, disheartening, disappointment. After all the friends cut out, and relationships broken, and bullshit dealt with, and my new ability to comfortably say the word NO, I am really at peace with who I am during this holiday. I’ll be 25 in 5 days, and I can’t think of a better version of myself. I can’t think of any other time that I was as truly happy and ready to do anything than right now. I’ve been through so many insane learning experiences lately and I’m as strong as I’ve ever been. ‘Winter is coming’ as GOT fans would say ( which I must confess, I’m on the bandwagon) and I couldn’t be more excited to be here in Salt Lake City enjoying it with truer friends than I could ever account for, a better brother than I should have ever received, and a happier outlook than I’ve ever had. Happy holidays to everyone, and you’ll be hearing from me from Disneyland.

Speak soon, dear readers. XO

-C