Winter. The time when most people hunker down, find a warm place to hang out, and dream about the summer months ahead.
Not my family. We live in the upper mid-west where snow may arrive in November and stick around through the end of March. Yet my family…we seek more snow. And bigger hills. Mountains. Our spring break falls in towards the end of our winter season. After months of cold, we load our gear, download some podcasts, and start driving. Seventeen hours to our home away from home.
Not only do we spend spring breaks driving thousands of miles, the last two holidays breaks, we’ve done the same. I know, I know. What a crazy time of year to brave the roads!? But the results, the outcomes? Worth every scary minute on the drive, every spilled drink on my truck’s upholstery, and every instance of “MOM! SHE’S TOUCHING MY LEFT TOE ON PURPOSE!” Well, almost every instance of that last one.
We bond on the snow. All six of us snowboard and even with varying ability levels, we can ride together and every single one of us will find our smiles. Taking winter trips has become a part of our normal, our “given.” My four children, ages nine through sixteen, take long car rides like champs. They know how to pack efficiently, sneak in some candy, and make sure they have extra headphones as theirs will inevitably be “borrowed” by a sibling. My kids help unpack the truck, set up boards and bindings, and find their helmets and goggles. We have a ritual of packing our pockets with cheese sticks, protein bars, and of course the littles have some candy here or there. Unless their dad or I find it and then we carry it for them, doling out Skittles one by one after going down difficult passes.
We decided five years ago to snowboard. Or rather—I dictated that my family was going to embrace, master, and love this sport—so they’d best get on board. And that board would be a snowboard. Before all of this, we dreaded winter. It was always a hassle to get kids all ready to play outside, only to have them return indoors ten minutes later. We lived at the local pool on Friday nights, dreaming about warmer months, and freezing our buns off walking to the car.
Enter snowboarding. Now we pray for negative temperatures and piles of snow. When the roads are rough, we head to the hill, happy to brave the 20 miles there and back. We know amazing experiences await us. And the skills we’ve gained – both physically and socially – have made winter break and spring break the most anticipated times of year in our home. My kids get along, help each other out, support each other, and make life long memories on these trips.
Why do we take a winter vacation? Because life is short and we want to grab every minute of time with these little twerps before they head out into the world on their own. Winter trips, or trips to winter destinations, whichever the case may be, make my family happy. Happy family means happy memories.