The recent snow here in the UK has reminded me of one of the best days of my life. A few years back now I went out for the day with my two boys, B and T; it had been snowing heavily and there was thick snow everywhere.
What else is a loving father and his boys to do if not go out seeking adventure for the day?
“The beautiful landscape that confronted us was truly breathtaking.”
So B and T, both being pulled along in a sledge by me, headed out in the thick snow and made our way to the nearby heath and forest.
We reached the peak of a path that lead us to the local forest. The beautiful landscape that confronted us was truly breathtaking. The snow had transformed the whole area into something similar to a scene from Narnia.
My boys and I found the first downhill pathway and we all excitedly climbed on the sledge and just sledged our way downwards. I vividly remember all three of us screaming and shouting really loudly with a healthy mixture of excitement and fear as we began our speedy descent down through the forest path.
We must have inadvertently picked the bumpiest hill in all of the forest! I clearly remember hitting bump after bump as we increased in speed downwards. Now, cheap plastic sledges purchased from the local hardware store are impossible to steer and are also impossible to slow down when in full speed! As such, at some point we must have gone off piste and all three of us rolled sideways out of the sledge and each of us tumbled and rolled (minus the sledge) at various speeds down the hill.
“Daddy! Lets do that again!”
As the responsible adult(!) I got myself up off the floor quickly and ran towards my boys, just to check that everyone’s bones were intact! In actual fact, where I had expected tears and possible self-reported injuries I found my two boys both laughing hysterically, clearly adrenalised by our high speed sledging stunt. “Daddy! Lets do that again!” One of them shouted. So we did, several times over!
After numerous more high speed tumbles down said hill we decided to brush ourselves down, check in with one another for any injuries and carry on with our snow adventure!
The next thing we did was what any responsible, fun-loving father does when taking his son(s) out for a day in the thick winter snow; I taught them both how to write their names in the snow! At the risk of sounding somewhat coarse, B and T just could not stop laughing at this opportunistic and previously un-experienced scenario with their dad!
“We all discussed at great length how we were managing to survive in such a tough sub zero winter environment!”
After our brief break we continued with our adventure in the snow. We next crossed a large opening in the forest. We imagined we were on some kind of adventurous trek in the North Pole. We discussed at great length how we were managing to survive in such a tough sub zero winter environment!
After successfully navigating our way across the North Pole(!) we then entered another part of the forest and began to hear voices in the distance, just ahead. As we continued, the voices increased in volume. There was the sound of screams, laughter and excitement.
We exited the forest at the next clearing and I looked attentively at my boys as they took in the scene in front of them. There was an incalculable number of people in various stages of sledging, sliding and rolling down a very large and steep snow covered hill. In fact by any means possible, these people were propelling themselves down this hill! We saw sledges, tea-trays, bin bags. I even saw a couple of teenagers propelling themselves down through the snow on an upside down police riot shield. God only knows where they got that from!
“Come on Daddy, lets do it!”
As is so often the case with being a parent, I saw this through the eyes of my children. And what I could see and hear was amazing; a cacophony of laughter and excitement could be heard from the many, many people there. The combination of the laughter, excitement and overall atmosphere was truly magnificent to behold.
I was awakened from my momentary amazement of the scene before me, with one of my boys excitedly shouting “come on Daddy, lets do it!”
And so, for the next hour or so we did what everyone else was doing. With complete abandonment and dismissing of any risks to ourselves and others, B, T and I relentlessly went up and down, up and down that hill. With each high-speed descent we aimed to get further down the hill without all three of us tumbling out of the sledge.
We reluctantly left that hill as the sun started to go down. We slowly trekked, in a homewardly direction through the thick snow. On the trek back home, all three of us agreed that we were completely exhausted but exhilarated at the same time.
On the trek home, us boys discussed how much of a success our adventure in the snow had been: We had successfully found our way to Narnia! We had managed to precariously sledge our way half way down a random forest pathway without breaking any bones! My boys had successfully learnt how to write their names in the snow! We had bravely crossed the North Pole in the most extreme of weather conditions! And we had finished the day on a high, by spending several hours propelling ourselves down a large and steep hill at high speed, time and time again!
Halfway home T said to me, in an incredibly affectionate and articulate manner, “Daddy, I’ve had so much fun it’s making me cry, can you please give me a piggy back for the rest of the way home!” Of course, I thought to myself, what else is a loving father to do?
And so, with T on my back and B pulling a broken sledge, we slowly but surely made our way home.
To the alienating mother of my children, I have something to say to you. “You may be able to, for now, prevent me from seeing my beloved and beautiful children. However you will never take such memories away from me. They are my memories. My memories to keep and cherish.”
That day, truly was one of the best days of my life.
The Colombian novelist, screenwriter and journalist Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said “what matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”
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