When I asked my younger son what he wanted for his sixth birthday, he only had one request: “I want to see snow.”
In most parts of the country, this would be a simple wish to fulfill; just lead him to the window, fling open the drapes and gift granted: enough snow piled in the yard to make a 2-foot deep snow angel, a snowman and an arsenal of snowballs. And under the big mound of snow in the driveway, you could almost make out the shape of the family car. Oops, sorry…that was the adult thought process creeping in.
Here in the desert, it would be easier to head to a toy store and pluck a toy off the shelf. But we will take him to the snow for his birthday. Here are a few reasons why I am in favor of it: A trip to the snow will not be strung out on my family room floor, making vacuuming nearly impossible. I cannot slip or stub my toe on a vacation when I get a glass of water in the middle of the night. A visit to the snow will not be tossed aside in a few months, left for me to pack it in the car and schlep it off to Goodwill (with him clutching my leg begging me not to give away his ‘favorite toy.’)
Still, I know that the visit to the snow can’t live up to the fantasy he’s created in his mind. I expect him to whine about his freezing fingers after about twenty minutes (if that) in the snow. He will get frustrated that his fingers won’t work right in gloves. He will get mad when clumps of snow slip inside his boots. And he will be disappointed when his snowman doesn’t look like Frosty, but instead, looks like tumor-inflicted mutant.
I am also aware that his innocent declaration of wanting to “build a snowman” really means he wants to peg me in the back (or the face) with a snowball. Perhaps I will allow him this moment of glee, because it will distract him from his discomfort. When he remembers his icy fingers, wet feet and ugly snowman, we will reveal the “Plan B” we worked into the trip:
That’s right. We booked a hotel with an indoor heated pool. (We’ve learned from past mistakes :))
Do your vacations live up to what you imagined? Or do you keep expectations low and find yourself pleasantly surprised?