As a kid growing up most of my immediate family was either in North Dakota or Manitoba, Canada. They played a lot of hockey in the small towns where my cousins grew up. Because my Dad grew up in Canada, my brother and I were rink rats on an outdoor sheet of ice that my Dad helped to flood. One small streetlight was all that illuminated the rink, yet we would throw our skates and hockey sticks over our shoulders and head to the rink after our homework was done. We would manage to skate for hours. Only cold feet and fingers would limit the time on the rink.
As soon as we arrived, other kids from the neighborhood would join us to get a game of shinny hockey going. There were no boards, only the piles of snow ambitiously piled high with shovels defined the rink. Somebody, and we are still not really sure who, built some awkward looking wood goals. They replaced the peach crates that had been oft repaired and were ready for the fire pit.
If you missed the goal on one of your shots, the puck could easily end up buried in the end of the rink in the snow, or even worse it would take flight out into the snow around the rink. It was similar to losing a golf ball in the rough when a puck disappeared into the night. Several evening hockey games ended when we just plain ran out of pucks. Wow, those were the days.
What might this have to do with Christmas in North Dakota in 2022. As I am writing this article there is a threat of a winter storm heading toward Minot. They are talking about double digit snowfall. As one of my friends remarked to me at the coffee shop, “it’s probably going to be a very white Christmas.”
As I have advanced in years, having a white Christmas has certainly not been as important as it once was. I said most of my family was from around here, but I did have cousins in California. Every year their Christmas card would include a photo of them someplace warm, like around their swimming pool. One year they even sent a photo of their whole family putting Christmas lights on a cactus. How inappropriate I thought. Christmas was a tree, not a cactus. We had snow so that Santa and his sleigh could get around. I can’t imagine that Rudolph and the other reindeer would enjoy a swimming pool for a landing zone.
But, I also remember the year when for some reason North Dakota did not get much snow. In fact, it certainly looked like there would be no snow for Christmas. I can remember discussing how Santa would get to Maddock, North Dakota without snow with my Dad. He didn’t seem concerned, which gave me some relief.
As it turned out, that year we received about two inches of snow, and I learned the truth about Santa Claus. You see, I was hoping for a new bike that year. And sure enough, there it was on Christmas Eve. Under the tree when we returned from church. The next morning when I got up, I was glancing out my bedroom window to admire the snow that had arrived in a nick of time. What caught my eye was a bike track from our storage garage to the back door of our house. Do you suppose…I had heard rumors about Santa Claus, but like every kid I chose not to believe these rumors. Santa landed his sleigh on our storage garage and needed to wheel my new bike to our back door, because it was too large for the chimney. And what was more, that new bike looked a lot like the bike that was in the local hardware store window. Ah, Santa just decided to buy local, I guess. Maybe the elves were too busy.
Back to Christmas 2022. If I have to shovel snow this week, and it certainly appears that is a real possibility, I won’t do it happily. But having snow for Christmas is the real deal. Kids who have never had a Christmas with snow, why they’ll have an entire new real life event. A white Christmas is a great experience, and as long as you are in North Dakota we want to share our white Christmas with all of you.
Best Kept Secrets
I just had a conversation with Dan from Bottineau Winter Park, and there was never a worry about the park not having a white Christmas. “The snow conditions are excellent” according to Dan. Skiing, tubing, and snowboarding are available for those who make the 75 minute trip to the Lake Metigsoshe area. Don’t worry about equipment. Bottineau Winter Park has an excellent rental area. Want to give skiing or snowboarding a first time try. Sign up for lessons. Check out the Holiday Hours on their website: skibwp.com.
This Week’s Humor
What did Luke Skywalker say after he planted a Christmas tree farm? May the forest be with you!