Being Thankful

As Thanksgiving came—and went—Jeff and I found ourselves reflecting upon how grateful we are to have lucked into a life in Utah.  Our move to Park City in 2001 was hardly premeditated. To be sure, it wasn’t altogether a well-thought-out decision. Honestly, being in Park City on vacation just felt right, and the idea of living here made sense to us in ways that we thought made sense. This was, of course in the B.K. Era—Before Kids—but we had a hunch it would be a great place to have a family.

That hunch paid off—and every year, as the ski season begins, I find myself reflecting on the ways I never realized my life would change for the better as a result of raising my family in Utah. Skiing with my family at Deer Valley is one of my very favorite things to be thankful for.

  1. From the moment my kids put on skis, they felt proud and impressed at their ability to engage in sport. As long as we made falling fun, they had a blast. As long as we let them eat cookies as big as their heads, they felt motivated to keep going. And when motivation flags, there is always a stash of sugar in my pocket to give it a boost.
  2. Watching them go from fearing a run to mastering it is a feeling that compares to watching them learn to walk.  Mind you, with every passing year, as their skills improve, I find myself trying to do the mental calculus about how long it will take before they are better than I am. And then I sign up for more lessons—for me. Which brings me to….
  3. Pushing myself is the best example. The only thing that made me happier than actually skiing X-Files last year was telling my kids that I did something that had previously scared me, and then….LOVED it.
  4. Deer Valley is serious about their family-friendly vibe. When my younger son was a baby, we’d come to the hill every weekend to watch big brother ski. Jeff and I often took turns hanging with the little guy playing sugar packet hockey, and working our way down Success with the big guy. But before we could do that, I had to run the gauntlet of logistics between the skier drop-off curb and the window seat in the Snow Park restaurant. There was a stroller, a giant diaper bag, containing supplies that would last other humans a full week, but will last a baby about an hour. There was the big guy’s gear. And, of course, the big guy himself, whose short, preschooler legs made the distance from curb to table seem insurmountable. Except that we had the good sense to arrive after the initial morning skier rush—and a team of ski valets and greeters would descend upon us to carry extra gear, push the stroller, open doors and joke with Lance to make the long walk fun.
  5. There are no strangers on the ski hill—my kids are comfortable chatting up other folks on the lift line, or on chair-lift rides. And I tell them it’s OK to gloat when they tell visitors we live here. After all, why shouldn’t they be aware that living here is nothing to take for granted.
  6. My life really is your vacation. My friend Miriam wrote about this last year, when I took my son skiing for my birthday . We don’t ski every day of the week—there is work, and the laundry monster must be fed, the refrigerator must be restocked. But the ability to drop everything and head to the hill at a moment’s notice—even if you don’t get to do it that often—is always there. It’s reassuring, even, to know that you could go take a run at any moment.
  7. Meeting up with friends almost always involves some sort of great winter activity—like skate skiing, snowshoeing  or five runs at Deer Valley before lunch. I layered up one recent morning and met a friend for snowshoeing—it was our workout in between dropping off our kids at school and getting rolling with our workdays. Seriously. And, no, I did not care that it was cold out. Back in my New York life, the only thing the snow ever did was ruin my shoes.

Skiing with my family is more fun that I ever could have dared to hope. I loved skiing as a kid—and I’m thrilled to see my kids enjoy it. I’m eager for this new season because my younger son is now 5, and that’s kind of a sweet-spot age for skiing. He’s been at it long enough that he knows the basics, is eager to conquer more terrain, and has enough stamina to explore the mountain a little.

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