One day I hope to raise my children in a neighborhood similar to the one in which I grew up in. It was truly awesome. There were kids my age and lot of room outdoors for playing. It was very safe and we had pretty much free reign of the neighborhood.
When I was a kid, we made snow forts, igloos, snowmen, snow angels, snow drawings, snow ball fights, and snow sculptures. Heck, we even once made snow ice cream. After that Nickelodeon movie “Snow Day” came out, we tried to find the courage to throw snow balls at the plow man. One of my families best friends whom we’ve known for 20+ years now, we met when my sister, Emily, and I went over to meet the new girl. We had a snowball fight and my sister accidentally threw some ice instead of snow to which the new girl (now one of our oldest friends) burst out crying and told us to “get off her property and never come back”.
I remember one time after a pizza night at the neighbors, my parents suggested as a prank we take their snowman, put it in our sled, and move it across the street to our front yard. That is when I found out how cool my parents were.
We also used to take our sleds out to the golf course near our house for epic sledding. The parents would even come along and bring coolers of beer. It was a great time. One time, my younger sister, Emily, sledded (slid?) right into this thorn bush. The bush pierced her cartilage! This was when everyone was getting their cartilage pierced but my mom wouldn’t let us. I was so jealous of Emily and her (probably infected) pierced cartilage that I angled my sled right at that bush all day long hoping to have the same result. I didn’t.
Once, about 4 of us took our sleds and set off on an snow exploration of the golf course. We came to this giant clearing and walked about halfway across before we realized we were actually on a pond (and it was cracking). We made it safely to the other side and continued our journey (but we took a different way back).
Now most of those kids have moved on. Two of them are married or almost married (not to each other, although in our preteen and teen years I often wondered if a neighborhood romance might evolve). I know more kids have moved into the neighborhood but I don’t see them outdoors playing in the snow. This distresses me.
So, when we recently got 18+ inches of snow, I decided to do something about it. I went out in my yard alone and built a massive Derek Jeter inspire snowman.
Then, I wrote a poem challenging the neighborhood kids to beat my snow man and put it in their mail boxes. It worked! And it’s still working! I encourage everyone to do this. All kids deserve to know how to build a snowman (and also possibly get their cartilage pierced by sledding into a pricker bush).
The poem I wrote and left in kids mailboxes:
Long ago on Woodcrest Drive
Maybe even before you were born,
There were some kids before you
Who couldn’t wait for a winter storm
Patiently, they’d wait
For the “cancelled” announcement from school
Then they’d put on gloves and parkas
And what happened next was cool
They left each of their warm homes
And headed onto the street
The house with the best sledding hill
Is where they’d choose to meet.
You could play outside for hours,
Without getting gross or hurt
Because the ground was covered in snow
We weren’t getting covered in dirt
We made snow forts and angels
We were a snow building clan
But most impressively of all,
Was when we built a snow man
Each house would make their very own
Every family working hard,
There was a snowman contest going
In almost every single front yard.
And then late one night,
We decided on a joke,
We stole the neighbors snowman
Thankfully, it never broke
We loaded it on our sled
With help from mom and dad
In the morning when they saw,
We knew they’d be so mad.
But it was all for fun
And we laugh about it now
That day we stole their snowman
And they still do not know how
So now we think it’s your turn
To keep traditions of years gone by
Can you build a snowman?
You sure can if you try!
We hope that you’ll enjoy it,
All the imagination and cheer
So you too can appreciate,
This special time of year.
A snowman helps you realize
That fun doesn’t always cost.
So next time you have a snow day
Go meet your friend, Jack Frost.