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 :)


  1. When Jessica was a little girl, just before Christmas a neighbor would make a appearance as Frosty the Snowman. He had a big round head and a bulky white suit.
    Frosty always had a gift for Jessica. He didn't talk (so Jess couldn't recognise the voice) and only came on to the big porch because he would "start to melt" if he came inside. We would go out on the porch to meet him and Jess would be speechless also.

  2. You couldn't have written a more perfect tribute to the Snow Queen or to Aunt Nickles.

  3. That was one of the sweetest stories ever! I'm kind of a grinch (surprise), but there's always one moment every year that puts me in the Christmas spirit. Thank you for that moment this year. Your family sounds amazing.

  4. Oh Christine! Perfection in the telling of this wonderful TRUE story. I haven't cried this much since May 2nd...but it's all good!

    Celebrate the love, the season and always remember those who have brightened your life.

  5. What a joy it was to provide a lap for wide eyed kids as the Snow Queen graced us with her presence each Christmas Day. Godspeed, Elaine.

  6. Thank you for sharing such a wonderfully loving memory and tribute to Elaine. What a fabulously brilliant woman she was. Truly missed, but always in our hearts.

  7. Stellar account, Christine. I have to say that, even after seeing photographic evidence, I'm still convinced that the Queen's feet melted on the carpet every year. Love, Lucy

  8. What a beautiful tribute to your Aunt and your Family.
    One of your many talents is putting your fingers to the keyboard to tell a story.
    Simply Beautiful!

  9. Thank you dear Christine for this most beautiful remembrance. Words cannot express...

  10. Lucy, oh not only did her feet melt on the carpet but I swear that one time I actually saw her float away across the yard. Swear.

  11. Wowie, so beautiful! What a great memory to have. We have a bunch of traditions in my family, more present than ever now that I have my own kids. I guess the funniest one is that every Christmas morning, my mom's family rents out the Town Grange and the whole family gets together for pancakes. And everyone gets a stocking - did I mention that my mom has 16 siblings? Each one, plus all the spouses, kids, grandkids, so one and so forth, gets a handmade stocking and each one is filled with little goodies. Totally overwhelming but really fun.

    Happy Holidays, Darling!

  12. Her feet TOTALLY melted on the carpet.
    She DEFINITELY floated.
    She always VANISHED after she left the house.

    ...ah, the magical powers of the Snow Queen.

  13. This is a beautiful tribute to a lady who was very special to me a very long time ago. Christine you have a gift for writing from the heart continue to let it flourish. Joe Mara


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