Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Once Upon a Snow Day

Last year we spent a special week with Joe's family in the mountains of Breckenridge, Colo., for Thanksgiving. Snowy Colorado seemed a world away from sunny Alabama, and when we returned home I wanted to preserve our memories for the children. With Christian's sixth birthday fast approaching, I decided to write our experiences in a story book called "Christian's Snow Days."

Creating a book was time intensive but easy on Shutterfly.

I uploaded photos to my account and planned a storyboard chronicling our week from beginning to end. I began the story with 5-year-old Christian's dream of seeing snow. The story progressed as his family flew to Colorado and found their cabin in the woods. I tried to create vivid word pictures of all our adventures, including fun details like the stops we made ducking into shops in downtown Breckenridge. Photos brought the book to life, and a nearly infinite selection of page layouts and backgrounds allowed me to completely customize the book.

Joe and I surprised Christian with the completed book and read it as a family the night before his birthday. Then on his birthday I took it to school to share with his class.

Christian was the star of his kindergarten class when we gathered for story time. I asked the children when they sat down if any of them had ever seen snow. Only a handful had, so they were excited to hear a story about a little boy whose dream of seeing snow had come true. "Do you know anyone named Christian?" I asked as I opened the book. All the children pointed to Christian, and he grinned sheepishly.

The children enjoyed hearing about Christian's magical adventures in Colorado. They giggled as they watched him sled down a snowy mountain, and their eyes grew wide as they heard about all the excitement on the ski slopes. They smiled dreamily as our story finally came to a close:

The next morning, Christian's family said farewell to their cabin before the sun came up. As they drove down the mountain, twinkling lights from the village below seemed to beckon them to come back soon. Christian gazed out the window as they drove toward the airport, awestruck as he watched the full moon dip behind the mountains and the sun rise to illuminate the view. In that moment Christian thanked God for the snow, for Colorado, for this magical week with his family.

Back home, Christian's memories of Breckenridge took on a dreamlike quality. Time moved swiftly, and sunny Alabama seemed a world away from the snowy mountains of Colorado.

But each year at Christmas, the ornament he bought in Breckenridge takes him back to the snowy village he once visited with his family. As Christian places the ornament on the tree, he feels a cold mountain breeze that sends a chill down his spine and fills his heart with warmth.

I hope that one day Christian will read this special story to his own children, retracing his footsteps through the snowy mountains of Colorado through the words and pictures on the pages of "Christian's Snow Days." And as he shares this magical chapter from our family's past, I hope this book will remind him of the love that fills each page in the story of us.

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