My dad and grandparents are no longer with us. Now, more than ever, I try to keep holiday traditions going. My granny would bake and you’d smell it for blocks. She was old school southern, sifting flour, everything by hand. Neighbors would say “she must be cooking because the block smells good.”
I am a daddy’s girl. I am as stubborn, aggressive, ambitious and competitive as my dad. We differ in two respects: (1) a percentage of my mom’s kindness runs in my veins; and (2) dad was a horrible loser. Christmas time meant a snowball fight with the first snow was always in order. We’d rush home after school and start making our stash of snowballs to give us a head start over dad. Even in college and later law school, I would miss a day of classes on the first big snow. My nephews were born while I was in college, so I told them we had to be prepared to get my dad as soon as he got out the car then run into the house. It was our only chance for victory.
We felt like war strategists, finding places to bunker and hide our snowballs. Dad arrived home and we commenced throwing wildly but without precision. Danger! He found a stash of our snowballs and is using them against. Forgot dad was a country boy and knew how to shoot. We were getting hit badly. I yelled “retreat” and off we ran into the house where we assumed we were all safe, like Switzerland.
However, I forgot that dad is a sore loser and failure/defeat is not in his vocabulary. He didn’t want us to retreat; he wanted to pummel us. We took off our coats and boots and sat comfortably at the kitchen table musing over how we got him (my nephews were still preschoolers). All of a sudden, the basement door bursts open and out comes dad snowballs in hand and he pelts each of us in the kitchen. Mom was not happy. We lost and had to clean up the wet mess in the kitchen. I said “dad it’s the kitchen – safe zone.” He said it did not know retreat.
It is a story that is told each year so that even now, my three year old nephew born after my father passed knows about grandpa’s snowball fight. Instead of ambushing dad, the little one wants to ambush his older cousins. He is anxiously awaiting snow because he knows auntie will leave early so the tradition continues. Every day since Thanksgiving when I speak with him, “auntie we’re going to get the boys with snowballs.” It’s fun but I’ve yet to claim victory. The older nephews are athletes and their aim just as good as my dad’s. The only thing I have going for me is that I’m auntie – an adult – and they cannot violate Switzerland (the kitchen)!