22 December 2010
the snow queen
My cousins, sister and I were really lucky growing up. We were visited each Christmas not only by ol' St. Nick but also by someone a bit more fit and who didn't steal cookies or drag dirty, flea-ridden reindeer across the globe. Every year on Christmas Day, the Snow Queen visited us at our Nan & Grampy's house and brought us tiny Christmas gifts. We opened presents and played downstairs in the living room and anxiously awaited that gentle knock at the front door. A nearby adult would nudge one of us to go open it and let our visitor inside. It's safe to say that we were all a bit terrified of the Snow Queen. If I ever was made to answer the door, I was undoubtedly trying my best not to wet myself and disgrace the family name. The door opened and we would scramble back to someone's lap and watch her effortlessly glide in towards us. I'd alternate between burying my head into a parent's shoulder and sneaking a glimpse of the most beautiful and magical creature I'd ever seen.
Without making a sound, the Snow Queen carefully placed a tiny treat for each of us near the Christmas tree. Then, just as quietly as she came in, the Snow Queen left. As soon as I slowed my breathing and heart rate down (I was a nervous kid), I'm sure I dove right into the pile of presents in search of some chocolate or a Polly Pocket.
We were so disappointed every year when my Aunt Elaine missed the entire visit, coming downstairs just a few moments after the Snow Queen disappeared. She would have been upstairs doing the dishes... or in the bathroom.. or fixing dessert. Some years we could have sworn my aunt wasn't in the room but she would kindly remind one of my cousins that, in fact she was there the whole time and that one of us was even sitting on her lap! "Oh right... yeah, now I remember..."
We learned from our classmates that the Snow Queen apparently had a very small delivery radius, limited exclusively to our grandparents' address, actually. It increased your chances of a sighting, though, if you had an aunt that was a dancer, an actress, a talented seamstress and very beautiful. And if you also were a part of a creative, persuasive and at times downright dishonest family that would easily put to rest any doubts or questions you had about the feasibility of a delicate lady floating around the neighborhood in the middle of winter. Having those things in place was key to Snow Queen visitation rights.
My aunt won't be with us this Christmas. She passed away last spring.
As we grew older, the Snow Queen stopped appearing in person but continued to leave little treats on Christmas Day. The memories of her, graceful and beautiful and generous, keeps her very much alive and present for us. And when the next generation of little terrors starts running around the Christmas tree, I have a hunch that the Snow Queen will come around again. And then we will continue the family tradition of duping our kids into believing in magical beings far past the point that middle school social codes allow.
What are your family holiday traditions? Did your grandparents' house have any special visitors, strangely unique to their block or zip code? Share them in the comments :)