This season remember yourself (at 5 years old)

Ok. Newsflash. The holiday season is upon us.

I know this because someone dressed me in suspenders, a bow tie and patent leather shoes and stuck me by this Christmas tree.

Now let me take a guess at what you’re doing in any of the spare time you may be lucky to possess.

You are making lists. Lists in your head about gifts to give. Lists on napkins about food to bake.  Grocery lists stuck to the side of the refrigerator that you forget to grab on your way out into the blizzard to get to the store. Lists on the back of your hand reminding you to add crazy uncle Bob to your Christmas card list.

I’m right aren’t I? But hopefully you’re not feeling the pressure just yet, as we have a good 24 days until Christmas. Oh, and by the way, thanks for taking the time to stop in, you know, between all of that baking and list making.

So while I have you here with me, I want to give you a little gift.

Close your eyes.

Put your head on your desk, or in your hands, or on the shoulder of your sweetie sitting next to you…

…and think about the season. Go ahead. I give you permission. Think about it the way you want to think about it. Love it. Loathe it. Tolerate it.

Now picture yourself when you were 5 or 6 or 7.

Shut up, neon was in. And so were earmuffs.

In the middle of December.

Picture your snowsuit. Think about the thrill of Santa’s impending visit, the pride you felt wrapping up that macaroni pencil holder for your gramma, the excitement of the first snow fall, the taste of your momma’s fresh cookies and your pops’ caramel corn. The quiet thankfulness you had for Jesus as you decorated the Christmas tree in preparation for his birthday.

Think of yourself, adorable I’m sure with hair wildly flinging out from your favorite beanie, breath heavy as you drug your neon sled, or wood sled, or cardboard box up to the top of the nearest hill and flung yourself down for the first time.

Remember how you couldn’t even feel your frozen cheeks as you closed your eyes tight against the wind whizzing by. You didn’t care about the weather or the windchill or the travel warnings or the buns you left in the oven. Because you didn’t leave buns in the oven. Because you were five or six or seven and no one let you use the oven.

Maybe your little sister was sitting behind you in the sled. Maybe your big brother was giving you a huge push. Remember the sound you used to make when you were thrilled? Remember how hard you laughed as you came to a crashing halt at the bottom–snow in your boots, snow in your hair, snow down your pants.

Yup, earmuffs, so fashionable, versatile anyone can pull off the look.

But you jumped up, brushed yourself off and just as soon as you yelled, “let’s do it again!’ your mom and dad came out from the house to call you for dinner and to your surprise, instead of making you come inside, they decided to take a run at the hill themselves.

So they climbed to the top with you, huffing and puffing into thier wool scarves, your dad holding your mother’s hand partly out of affection, but mostly to tug her along.

And just like that they were no longer adults. Just like that they were no longer parents who made you eat your vegetables, stop hitting your sister and clean your room. They were kings and queens of the mountain just like you. Their cheeks were rosy, their eyelashes coated in frost, their hearts pounding in anticipation as your mom wrapped her arms around your father’s waist and squealed– a sound so familiar somehow, although you swore you never heard it from her lips–as he launched the both of them, scarves trailing behind, like white lightning down the mountain.

And you held your breath and hoped your eyes did not deceive you. You clasped your hands together and bent your knees as they approached the little jump you and your brother had constructed. You closed your eyes as they caught air and seperated from the ground…and then from the sled…

You remained silent as they landed, with a puff, in a pile of legs and down and snot and wool and mittens, at the bottom.

You remained silent knowing surely that this accident, this launch, would transform them back into the people you knew only moments before. That a trip home right this instant was inevitable. Oh, the fun was surely over now.

And just as you were about to release your knees, slowly from their bent position, you launched into that jump after all as you heard, echoing off of the buttes and through the trees, laughter.

Laughter like you’ve never heard come out of these people you called parents before.

And you laughed too as you watched them lay there in a pile, their bellies rising and falling underneath the layers of coats and sweaters as they took in the next big breath only to release it again and again as huge chuckles, squeals, gasps. Pure joy.

So as soon as gravity returned you to earth your boots carried you, arms flailing, down the hill and to a sliding halt right into the middle of these new found friends. Then your brother or sister plopped right on the top and another wave of hilarity ensued.

And you were all there. You were all a part of it. A great big pile of happy and love and family.

A great big pile of friends.

Are you smiling?


Now the only thing I ask in return is this:  if you forget anything this season–the cookie salad, your third cousin’s new last name, what your youngest daughter wants for Christmas, or uncle Bob at the airport–please, please do not forget yourself…

… at 5 or 6 or 7…

…and then be her again…

Music on video by

20 thoughts on “This season remember yourself (at 5 years old)

  1. As usual, you made my day. I can tell you didn’t have brothers–no bumps, bruises or “your feet aren’t freezing, stop being a baby.” And my dad skiing down the hill with grace in his Army skis. Mom usually stayed home because she got cold feet, too. You, on the other hand, had parents who knew how lucky they were to be together, to laugh and show their daughters they weren’t too old to have fun. I still get cold feet, but, I like the season.

  2. YOU ROCK!!! I loved this! It reminded me of the time of my best winter sledding ever. Most of the snow/ice had thawed and we (me and some Gunderson girls) didn’t want it to end so we filled up buckets of water to try to freeze our favorite (rocky) sledding hill. Well lets just say it didn’t work and my 99 cent sled from Gamble’s had a few holes and now my butt had a few more bumps, scrapes, and bruises.

    Thank you for the reminder that you are never too old to have fun! 🙂 And amongst the craziness of presents, cards, cookies, and uncle Bob, we need to enjoy it! 🙂

    Thank you for brightening my day! (or season!)

    PS LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the gift you gave for Yuletyme! WAY COOL! 🙂

  3. I love it, Jessie-ca. Made me smile (and giggle out loud). Sometimes I think the reason God gives us children (whether they’re little or all grown up) is to keep us from forgetting to enjoy things like this. Happy memories! 🙂

  4. LOL, such an innocent cutie you were. Weren’t we all? I have two boys so I say girls are sugar and spice and everything nice. I also told him I walked up hill both ways w/o shoes..yes my 12 year old is pretty gulliable.
    I wasn’t much of an outdoor girl(during the winter). Yes I did so because I HAD to but brrr. I have a pic w/ my long blonde hair(I wanted hair like Crystal Gail..down to my feet), when I was about 5/6, sitting in front of my b’day presents waiting to open them. My birthday is Christmas Eve so until age 7, my parents tried to have a small birthday party for me Christmas eve morn. I didn’t understand why my brother got to open presents on my b’da and I didn’t get to on his b’day..:(. Thanks for taking me back to that time. Nicole

  5. Jessie, Loved your post! I had pink snowpants, too! Must have been all the rage….I used to take my camera out to take “action” shots of my brother jumping into snowbanks. Needless to say, I only got pictures of him starting to jump or already in the snow, so he wasn’t ever very pleased.

    We used to sled a lot, but our favorite was taking out our horse and dallying on to the old car hood. We had some good times with that! Of course, being the mean older sister I was, I jockeyed for position in the front, pushing back my younger brother, lost my grip and flew off the car hood into the snow, packing snow tight between my glasses and my face. Makes me think maybe I should have been nicer and I would have hung on! 🙂

    Happy Trails and Have a Great Holiday Season! Annika

  6. Tell your mom her videoing has improved ten-fold! 😉 I only heard one little blip “jessie, i don’t think this is recording”… heehee

  7. A great gift, wonderfully scripted post, loved it! You certainly looked like you had a great time. Life can be so different only a few thousand miles away, funny, there is a whole continent here stuck indoors complaining about a bit of early snowfall, when we should all be outdoors having fun with our friends and family!

  8. You were lucky with earmuffs. I grew up a lot before you and my mother would knit what she called snoot boots. Yep she would attach elastic loops to go around the ears and give you this little knitted cover for your nose and usually a pom pom would grace the very end. Very stylish!
    I also grew up in NEastern ND and there are no hills there it is river valley. But I have fine memories of very snowy winters when the wind would whip up huge banks of snow and we would slide down them usually on saucers but occasionally on discarded car fenders. (we were farm kids) Thanks for the post.

    • Cindy, wow, I am laughing thinking about that stylish knitted nose cover with a pom pom. I really want to see a photo of that…maybe have someone make one for me 🙂 Sounds creative. And I think I have some discarded car fenders lying around here…I’m gonna have to give that a try. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  9. I was feeling aweful about my first Christmas in 12 years without my wife to share it with (sure, we are going to be back together but we’re having Christmas separately and are still living apart).

    And then I read this post and it warmed my heart and made me grateful to be sharing Christmas with my family: parents, sisters, nephews and nieces.

    Thank you so much 🙂

  10. And let us not forget the “friends” we have during the holiday season. We most think of parents, brothers, sisters, etc. but there are friends out there that do things for us during the holidays, that can only bring tears of happiness and joy to our lives. Long live the friendships that comfort us during times of joy and sadness, there deeds do not go un-noticed! Thanks Jesse for sharing a great memory.

  11. What a wonderful post! My most recent holiday list–“Thanksgiving Haitian Style: a shopping list” is posted at . The next time I get stresssed about cholera or election fraud here in Port-au-Prince, I’ll think about a younger version of myself “stopping my the woods on a snowy evening”–never imagining I’d have taken this path!

    So glad to have found your blog!

  12. Pingback: A year in review…with you. « Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

  13. I think the snow keeps us kids at heart…….younger bodies do not feel the sting of the cold nor the pounding of the hill as we fly in our “snow planes”…being a Eastern ND “flat lander”..hills were somewhat scarce so my friend Jim had his dad pull our sled with the car. Those rural roads had some deep snow drifts!!! Thanks for the trip back in time Jess…Rich

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