Last night during a girl scout meeting it was gently snowing and beautiful. There wasn't a lot of snow accumulation, but at 10 degrees (F) it was powdery, sparkly, and soft. Not great for traction on the road, but I didn't realize it yet.
After singing carols and making ornaments with the girl scouts, I took the least steep route to get us home. It was still too much for our van. After fishtailing slowly up the hill, the wheels locked up and we started a slow slide backwards. As we gained momentum towards the highway below, instead of screaming and swearing (which I rather felt like doing), I calmly said, "We're fine girls, just pray," and I slowly turned the wheel which eventually skidded us horizontal to the hill, kept us out of the ditch, and stopped our descent. Heart thumping madly, I focused on helping and calming Ayla, Sylvia, and Camille and looked around. It was gorgeous.
We were stuck in front of the historic church and graveyard that is about 5 miles from our home. The same church where Camille and Sylvia had rehearsed for a Christmas play that same morning. The snow sparkled like tinsel dust and was falling so gently it barely kissed our cold cheeks as it landed. After calling Papa for a rescue, we hopped out and walked up the hill, scared, exhilarated, and so grateful. Sylvia's sense of panic gradually turned into a sense of adventure as I carefully reassured and encouraged her. Ayla was fine as long as we were tightly holding hands. Camille was a help in keeping the general mood calm and peaceful. Never so happy to see car headlights as we were the moment the little purple station wagon stopped way up the hill from us. Never so happy to have warm hats, coats, mittens, and boots. Never so happy to see the moonlight on new-fallen snow.
Papa got the van safely out of the road while we waited and we all made it home, sat in front of the woodstove, and ate soup and hashbrowns. After staying calm in the moment last night, I keep having bouts of heart-racing, tear-inducing gratitude today. It reminded me again why I snuggle my girls extra long, play with them extra silly, tell them (and more importantly, show them) an abundance of love every day. It reminded me why I'm so grateful to have a strong, loving relationship with a strong, loving husband that I take for granted every day.
I am grateful for the little moments and the difficult ones. I am grateful for health and warmth and the ability to thoughtfully create a life that we can be proud of. I am grateful to be able to share our lives with friends, family, and community. I am grateful for snow pants and a snow-covered hill in the yard for sledding with my kids, and the bald eagle that soared over our sledding hill and our heads. I am grateful for a safe-enough backwards slide down a steep hill to remind me to be grateful. I am reminded to check the weather report and stay home when in doubt!
Be safe out there and give your loved ones an extra squeeze!