Your guide to family events, stories and news in Western Wisconsin.

Perspectives

Searching the Snow for a Seasonal Spark

finding a little holiday magic amid a difficult year

We got an early dose of winter this year, thanks to 7 inches of snow in late October, and – I have to say – it was magical. True, the snowblower was still buried behind the lawnmower in the garage. True, there were still plenty of leaves on the trees. True, the snow came before Halloween, which certainly stirred anxiety among those who dread the frigid Wisconsin winter.

Over the years, I’ve increasingly joined the ranks of such naysayers. My middle-aged back doesn’t appreciate shoveling (thus the snowblower). My middle-aged dog doesn’t like walking in the cold. My middle-aged temper boils when the kids lose yet another pair of mittens. I’m a lifelong Wisconsinite, but sometimes deep in the wintertime I not-so-secretly yearn for a warmer climate.

Why build a cheery little snowman instead of grumble at the unseasonable snowfall? For the simple reason that, amid this dark and anxious year, we need to appreciate every spark of inspiration and hope we can find.

But, when the snow fell this October, I chose to look on the bright side. The bright side was both literal and metaphorical: I smiled while donning my sunglasses to cut down on the glare from the blanket of white. That snowy afternoon, I drove my kids (and the four other youngsters who are sharing their virtual school “pod” this pandemic year) to a familiar slope for some early-season sledding. They formed downhill trains with their sleds, build crash-test snowmen, tramped up and down the hill, and generally frolicked like puppies. I even built a little snowman of my own, complete with a face mask fashioned from a discarded Dum Dum wrapper.

Why build a cheery little snowman instead of grumble at the unseasonable snowfall? For the simple reason that, amid this dark and anxious year, we need to appreciate every spark of inspiration and hope we can find – whether it’s an unspoiled field of snow, an unexpected Christmas card, or the excitement of seeing a child marvel at holiday lights.

We hope that you find this issue of Chippewa Valley Family filled with similar sparks. Want to enjoy a holiday play, in person or virtually? You’ll find details here. Want to make some magical “snow dough” in your kitchen? We’ve got a recipe. Eager to learn about how to best help kids with virtual education? Just turn the page. Want a whole bunch of ideas for snow-day fun? We’ve got you covered.

As the pandemic continues, it may be particularly hard to get into the holiday spirit this year. The events that serve as mileposts to the season may be canceled. The opportunities to gather with loved ones on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holidays may be limited. Still, we hope you and your family can find – and magnify – the sparks of beauty, joy, and togetherness that lie all around us, just under the snow.