Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Getting There is Half the Fun

Shabbat #13

Guests: Nana, Papa, Cousin Mia. Thanks Nana for giving me a break this week and doing the cooking. And condolences to single 30-something Mia for tolerating the kiddos for 3 days -- a very dependable form of birth control.

Menu: Chicken & Dumplings, Apple Brie Salad, Ian's Challah - made special just for us (a story in itself) and Chocolate Bread Pudding (even better cold while eaten standing next to the open fridge Saturday morning)

What I Learned:

The best thing Dad ever gave me was a love of skiing.

He started taking me to Colorado when I was six. Usually twice a year. The school district vacation never seemed to coincide with ideal ski conditions, so I usually got to miss a few days of school. But that was okay.

For two days our orange Datsun with its rooftop ski rack became my classroom. Rambling down Highway 70 I traded off between Auto Bingo and multiplication tables, collected the trappings for my Kansas diorama and tirelessly searched for license plates from all fifty states. Which was possible since people actually drove across the country back then.

Behind us followed a caravan of my parents' ski pals. Cars filled with kids who knew one another outside of the awkward elementary school bubble. Where it didn't matter which lunch table was yours or whether you had the latest lavender Izod sweater. Our parents talked on their CB radios and had their own handles. Dad was Goldfinger -- an ode to his alter-ego James Bond. We hit all the truck stops where our parents ordered up giant cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk -- knowing full well that they would soon be trapped in a car with our sugar-charged bodies.

Oh. And then there was the skiing.

Outfitted in CB Sports down parkas, rear-entry boots and 200cm+ Keastrel skis our parents raced us down mountains. Caught air on Naked Lady. Sat in hotubs in the snowfall. Sipped from wine skins. For a week they were almost, dare I say it, cool.

Ah. The memories of our ski family.

Last year history repeated itself. My dad and I took Ben skiing. We dropped him off at ski school and crossed our fingers. At the end of the day we found him slumped over the snow fencing. How'd it go? (Head pops up.) When can we do it again? Just like 30 plus years before.

This year we brought Ben and Sarah. And it was twice as good.

And twice as hard.

As a parent I now know that traveling with kids is not easy. It's hard labor. Feeding, dressing, equipping, shuttling and finally getting a kid onto the side of a mountain ranks among the most challenging things I have ever done. And then there's the planning. The missed work. The packing. The schlepping. The whining. And the expense.

Dad must have dealt with this too. (Especially the whining.) But he never let on. He drove through white outs. Put on tire chains in snow storms. Carried equipment, lunches, snacks. And me. All without ever raising his voice. Or wasting a moment calling the office, slipping in work. It was our time.

That's the kind of time I want to give Ben and Sarah. Uninterrupted, turned off, powered down, unplugged time. A week when I race them down mountains, catch air, sit in hot tubs, sip from wineskins. A week when I'm, well, cool.

Just like Dad did. And continues to do.

At 67 ... a month shy of 68, Dad placed second in his age group last week at the Nastar Championships. He beat me. Next year, he'll probably beat Ben. And in a few more years Sarah.

I grew up expecting the annual ski trip. And that's what my children can expect too.

Next year maybe we'll even drive. Because getting there was always half the fun.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post and will be forever thankful that your Dad took me along with your family on one of these special ski trips so many years ago. It was something I dreamed of doing for years and to this day still think back to that week, smiling the whole time. What a gift he gave you (and me)!