With all of Michigan’s tree farms, you never went to a lot to pick out a pre-cut tree.
Dad brought his saw, and all dutifully followed behind Mom while she assessed every single tree in the three-acre lot. After 30 minutes of throwing snowballs at Dad’s back and trudging through the knee-high snow, you’re secretly glad that Mom forced you to wear the stupid long underwear under your three sweaters and snow gear.
The cousins always got together to take on the steepest hill in the yard.
This meant squeezing into overall-style snow pants and pulling the bottoms down over your boots. Once you were at the top of the hill, you had to aim between the wide oak tree and the drop off to the fire pit, but if you made it straight down the middle, you’d shoot out onto the frozen lake.
You knew better than to show up at family functions without more than enough sleds, but you could also improvise sleds out of whatever was lying around.
Tire inner tubes, lunch trays, and Grandma’s silver platters were all good options.
If you ever got bored sledding, there was always ice skating, ice hockey, or racing across the frozen lake.
And you would always beg an uncle to drag your sled behind the snowmobile.
Making the rounds from grandparents to great-grandparents to more grandparents was made into much more of an adventure with the weather.
Arriving in time for Christmas dinner was dependent on how much snow dumped from the sky and how many inches of black ice formed on the ground.
Christmas morning meant springing out of bed, and pulling most of your bedding with you so you could open your presents from inside your blanket nest.
You made the obligatory trip to Bronner’s.
Frankenmuth’s over-the-top Christmas Wonderland is open year-round, but felt especially festive during the holidays. And where better to finish you holiday shopping than in Michigan’s very own little Bavarian village?
You knew that the break from school meant one thing: time to turn all the snow shoveled out of the driveway into a fort and snowball-building facility.
The matching one across the driveway was the neighbor kids’ fort, and way smaller and less intimidating than yours.
Spending the Holidays in a climate that doesn’t get snow is something you still can’t wrap your mind around.
What am I looking at? A 5-foot inflatable snowman next to a palm tree? So tacky.
You dreamed of being snowed in with the entire family.
Aunts and uncles claiming the extra beds. Cousins scattered throughout the house. Grandma pulling extra blankets from the shelf in the closet. You’d volunteer to sleep in the bathtub.
With the weather as unpredictable and harsh as it is, everyone knew it was more important to have comfort food than traditional holiday food.
It’s pot roast and peel ‘n eat shrimp for Thanksgiving, monkey bread and mimosas (chocolate milk for the kids) for Christmas morning, and after filling up at all of the Christmas day stops to visit various family members, it may just be hot dogs and mac and cheese for dinner.
You were afraid as a kid that the weather was going to keep Santa from getting to your house.
Can Santa’s sleigh still fly in whiteout conditions? Do the reindeer need to see or do they some magnetic notion and just know where to go?
Mom, dad and the siblings have all piled into the family SUV to drive through a neighborhood of decorated houses.
Somehow now the inflatable snowman doesn’t look so tacky in its rightful place, nestled between a light-up Santa and life-size nativity scene.