Childhood memory comes alive again
Last updated 1/22/2020 at 4:38pm | View PDF
It was almost midnight when we settled in by the fire and my friend said to the group, "I want to hear everyone's favorite childhood memory."
Groans of protest ensued.
"Come on ... a favorite childhood memory, any childhood memory," he persisted.
Tired but intrigued, we gave in.
I passed on the first go round, combing my brain for a favorite. Other friends jumped right in with stories that ran the gamut - an exuberant purchase of a long forbidden video game system, a broken arm on the first day of summer and two brothers roaming the countryside of Spain. It was so intimate peeking into these story windows to their pasts.
We went around until just a few of us were left, and I told the group I couldn't pinpoint one memory, that I needed more time. As I spoke the words aloud, the memory I wanted popped into my head, buried by time, but ever so clear.
I remember sledding. My mischievous, brilliant Dad had the idea, after a particularly big snowstorm, that
we should sled down our street, an enormous hill more than half a mile long.
Our hill is undulating and curvy, with one particular stretch that's extremely steep - the kind of hill you couldn't ride your bike up on the way home from school, even if you put some muscle into it.
We trek out there that morning. My Flexible Flyer teeters on the brink as my Dad holds it steady and we climb aboard. The snow is icy and smooth.
Sled reigns pulled taught and our boots pressing hard on the steering bar, we let go and rocket down that hill hanging on for dear life. At the bottom, the hill makes a sharp turn to the right, but we keep on sizzling straight down into the Varleys' front yard, down their driveway and into the backyard where we finally ease to a stop. Laughing and breathless, I rise off the sled on shaky legs, sure that we'd narrowly escaped with our lives.
We took on the hill and won. I loved the thrill of danger and the fact that my Dad let me do it. I loved that we ventured out in the deep snow, when no one else did. I loved that we beat out the plow. I loved being daring and strong. I loved sitting on my sled with my Dad's arms around me.
No other sledding can compare. As I told the story to the group, I could feel it all again - the cold air, my blue snowsuit, my father's voice, the swell of triumph - and I felt my face shining as I shared it.
-Carol Wittemann of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. This column was first published Jan. 16, 2014.