After four weeks of festive frivolity, December eventually fades away, leaving January in its wake. There’s a deep reluctance to spend, a strong desire to diet, and the cruel realization that the days are too short, the sun is scarce, and the bitter cold air bites like a knife.
Then, when all hope seems lost, we wake up one morning to see the landscape transformed by flakes of white powder that now cover nearly every outdoor surface. This fleeting moment of beauty is made all the more wonderful by one simple fact…it is Saturday. No need to drag myself out of bed early to shovel the walk and brush off the car so that I can navigate the treacherous roads to work. I can lie in bed, relax, and enjoy.
Sadly, I know it will not last. The temperature will slowly inch higher by the few degrees needed to turn fancy white flakes into boring drops of rain. But until that transition takes place, I look out the window and relish the memory of another winter day, 11 years earlier.
My reaction to the snow on that weekday morning was quite different that the peaceful reaction I feel today. I had to wake, shower, dress, get my then three year old daughter Melissa up, dressed, and fed. Then I cleaned off my car, came back inside, and stuffed my little pumpkin into her coat, boots, gloves, hat, and scarf. Finally, harried, and frustrated, I struggled to get my little girl and all of her winter coverings to fit into the car seat.
We drove to the day care center without incident. Melissa sat silently in the back seat, watching the snowflakes falling in earnest. We arrived. I parked, and anxiously glanced at my watch. Yes, today, I would certainly be late for work. I unhooked the car seat and helped her out, and with, perhaps, a bit too much edginess to my voice, encouraged her to move faster.
We started to walk towards the entrance to the day care center when suddenly, she stopped. Now what, I thought, again glancing at my watch. She looked at me, then tilted her head up to look at the snow, and said, “Mommy, I can catch the snowflakes on my tongue.”
I came to a dead stop. Thoughts of traffic and work and being on time no longer existed in my mind. Nobody had ever told my beautiful, sweet little girl about the simple pleasure of catching snowflakes on the tongue. She had figured it out all on her own. In her innocence, she reminded me that sometimes, life’s most precious moments come at unexpected times, and you have to stop and smell the roses, or in our case, stop and catch the snowflakes, as it were.
I took her hand, looked up at the sky and held out my tongue. Together, we just stood there, catching snowflakes. I’m not sure how much time passed, or how many flakes landed in my mouth. I do know, that once we decided to move on, my daughter’s face, nearly hidden under the hat and scarf, had lit up with delight, and I became much more relaxed, the prospect of being late no longer mattered.
As time goes by, there are so many wonderful moments with Melissa that touch my heart. Some I will remember, some memories will fade away. But a snowy January morning, when a three year old girl experienced the simple pleasure of catching snowflakes on her tongue for the very first time, will stay with me forever.