The Snowman Tradition
He was always lopsided. That was inevitable. But we were always proud, just the same. We made him from our own hands, and he never looked half-bad, if I don’t say so myself. Sure, his eyes bulged from his head, and yes, his face was unnaturally round, his nose absurdly pointed, and his arms unrealistically thin. He was a caricature of life, but we marveled at him, our creation.
It used to be that every winter, my siblings and I would build a snowman in our backyard. Mom would mention in passing that the backyard was looking mighty empty, after the first big snowfall, and we would all take the hint, throw on our snow gear, and race out into the glaring white of a new winter.
Constructing a snowman is an art form. It takes care and patience. One starts by packing a snowball, and then rolling it in the fresh snow. Like blowing up a balloon, the ball magically grows larger. My sibling and I would race to see who could make theirs the largest, although an occasional snowball fight would breakout to divert us from our initial goal.
Eventually, a winner was declared, and their giant snowball was used as our base. After this original competition phase, it was all teamwork. My twin brother Evan and I would take the runner-up snowball, it being the second largest, and balance it on the base. The perfect torso. My older brother Stephen would pack snow between the spaces, while my sister got water to cement the newly packed snow. The process was repeated using another snowball for the head.
Two branches were then crudely shoved into the sides for arms. Rocks from below the porch formed a crooked smile, a row of buttons, and a pair of mischievous eyes. A carrot for a nose sealed the deal. At the culmination of these initial efforts, we tossed a bucket of water over our snowman for permanency, giving him an icy coating that shone in the light. A scarf and mittens introduced a human touch to our cold friend. We would stand back, hands on our hips, and marvel at our collective efforts. Hot chocolate back at the house was our final reward.
This snowman making process was a tradition throughout my childhood. One winter, however, we stopped; we were too old, it was too much work, it had lost its appeal. Next, sledding was abandoned, and then, we stopped going out into the snow at all. We didn’t gain an abhorrence of winter. We were growing up, and more significantly, growing apart. And I hated it.
So last year, I revitalized the snowman tradition. I tried to recruit fellow constructors, but they were engaged in other pursuits. So I wandered out into the snow alone, and I built the base. I squatted down and rolled my ever-growing snowball across the backyard, leaving a trail in my wake. I made a torso, and a head. I stuck in the branches, and the stones, and the carrot. I threw a bucket of water over my creation, and donned a baseball cap on his head. Finished, I took off my mittens, gladly gave them to the snowman, and stepped back to admire my handiwork. It took a lot longer alone, than it did as a team.
My snowman was especially lopsided and pathetic, but of course, I was proud of him. Mom snapped a picture, a lasting reminder of my efforts.
I love my family, and I have felt that we have always been close. My siblings and I are similar in age, and we have developed close bonds with each other. My efforts to revitalize the snowman tradition reflect who I am: caring, hardworking, and maybe just a tad sentimental. I have voiced my concerns to my siblings about the growing distance between us, and I continually try to bring us back together, be it through a trip to the movies, or an occasional card game. I only need to think back to our winters together and our exploits throughout the years to remember why I want to rekindle our connection.
The winter is fast approaching, especially up here in Connecticut. Perhaps you’ll find a snowman in our backyard this year, after the first big snowfall. I’m confident it will have been made by more hands than one.