When I was in 8th grade, we moved from a Chicago suburb to a St. Louis suburb.  The whole of our five years in Chicago, we only missed school for extreme cold–never for snow or ice or any other precipitation.  It just didn’t happen.  When we moved to St. Louis, people said snow was rare (Looking back, I wonder who these people were).  Apparently, St. Louis was supposed to be a tropical climate.

My sister got RISK and the “Bye, Bye Birdie” (TV version with Vanessa Williams and no one else I remember) soundtrack for Christmas.  We did our usual rounds of trips to Iowa for Christmases at the different grandparents.  We ate lots, racked up more toys, and got to play with puppies.  It was a wonderful Christmas–as every one was through my high school years.

Around New Years–the day before school would resume, we got snow.  Days of snow.  Inches upon inches of snow.  It was a Winter Wonderlan, indeed.  And, for the following 3 or 4 days, school was canceled–extending our Christmas break.  I’m sure my mother was as thrilled as we were.

For these 3 days, my sister and I began a routine.  Sled all morning, come in for a lunch of Campbell’s (box) chicken noodle soup, and play an hours long marathon of RISK, usually followed by at least an hour more of sledding.  I should mention that it wasn’t exactly “sledding.”  There is a small “hill” or incline from the neighbor’s house to my parents.  I think hills would be a bit offended if I called this minuscule rise such.   We’d trudge the 10 (maybe) steps to the top, then slide the 1 second ride down.

I’m not sure why we found such endless enjoyment doing such.  I was 13 and my sister 11.  But, we did.  We tried to “surf” down the hill, or use PAM to make the sleds go faster.  We tried making bumps and twists, and in the end we spent the better part of our day out there instead of stuffed inside a classroom.

The games of RISK were intense as we are both incredibly sore losers.  And the chicken noodle soup always tasted like a rich delicacy to our frozen bodies.

It was the best Christmas break, ever.

Now, 12 years later, I am stuffed inside a classroom behind a desk–so far no students have shown up (it’s an early release day and if students have perfect attendance they don’t have to come, so no one comes, and gee it’s fun to sit in an empty classroom just in case a student pops up).  And I am eagerly awaiting 12 o’clock when I will be set free from the chains of school for 13 luxurious days.  I doubt sledding will be involved, but I may talk R. into a game of RISK and a lunch of soup after our pre-construction meeting on the house.  Priorities and responsibilities may change, but Christmas break will always make me feel a bit like a kid again.

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