Let it Snow – snowball fights

It is December, warm and sunny in NYC.  I don’t like cold weather, but the one time I want to see snow and lots of it is December.  I love a white Christmas.  Plus, the first snow means a tradition must be followed.  When New York had snow in October, it was the first time I longed for home.  Typically the first snow means leaving work early, picking up the nieces and nephews, and having fun.  Snow in October and auntie’s babies were not here to play in it.  My dad and grandparents are no longer with us.  Now, more than ever, I try to keep holiday traditions going.
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)! During last year Chicago blizzard, he thought he’d pelt his older cousin.  However, my older nephew is named after my father and not only has his named but also his personality.  My little one was shocked when his older cousin landed a snowball at him.  He quickly learned strategy is important.

With the nieces, we started a tradition of sledding down the hill in Grant Park.  The fun starts as soon as we walk up the hill because my oldest niece falls down before we get to the top – always!  When she finally gets to the top and goes down in the sled, she is destined to run into a snow bank or something else.  Last year was the first time my youngest nephew (three then) came out to the hill with us.  I thought he might be afraid.  No, this one is like brave-heart.  He went down with me laughing and smiling.  On the walk back up he declared he wanted to go by himself.  He was a trooper.
Last month, my mom said the Chicago suburbs had some snow.  She said my little nephew stood by the window looking for snow and woke up the next day disappointed.  I talked to him and he said “you know what we have to do when you come for Christmas, we go sledding – it’s okay if you invite the girls.”  He likes to believe the traditions started upon his arrival to the world.  I admit it, six nieces and nephews and I spoiled them all, but they are not rotten.  They are my babies.  I recently showed a picture of one of my “babies” to a colleague.  His response, “Ronda your baby is 6’4″.”  He’s still auntie’s baby.
Yesterday I made my Auntie Ronda’s Snack Mix and holiday music is playing around the clock.   I surprised some New York neighbors with treats.  After finally opening their door,  I gave them the treats with a “Merry Christmas” and they all looked shocked.  My babies aren’t here so I had to give the treats to somebody until I see my babies for Christmas.  I’ll be home for Christmas because my babies say so and the cookie baking and sledding will commence!
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Ronda Lee
Founder, Editor-in-Chief
Ronda is an attorney, writer, and entrepreneur. She is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post. Originally from Chicago, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York. She loves to travel and is passionate about education equity, especially for first generation college students.