It is the day before Thanksgiving and I am snuggled into a warm house, baking cookies and watching the big flakes of snow land on the beautiful, large pine trees that surround this property. Sitting on 12 acres affords the opportunity for an annual Thanksgiving football game that could consist of as many as 6 teams. I wondered out loud yesterday if there still would be a football fest happening since It might be a tad bit slippery out. I was quickly informed that the snow would just add to the fun of it and the show would go on!
When you think about it, the out- of- the- ordinary circumstances in life are the ones that make some of the best and most unforgettable memories. Maybe that is why my sons used to don shorts on the first snow of the year and race out to the yard barefooted, only to run a very quick lap before retreating into the warmth of the house. Sometimes we just have to find delight in the moment and enjoyment in the unexpected. We can lean into life’s surprises and work with it or react against it. I can’t say that I have always done this well, but the memory of my first ski experience comes to mind and I still smile when I think about it.
A group of us had decided to take a trip to one of Colorado’s beautiful ski resorts. I can’t remember for sure which one, but I think it was Vail and it would have been the late 70’s. We made our reservations, organized food and gear and headed off for a much anticipated get-away. As I recall, everyone had skied before except Tom (not his real name, you will soon understand why!) and myself.
Anyone who knew Tom knew that he was an incredible athlete. Any sport he did he did well. He was good at all of them, so of course none of us gave a thought to his ability to handle the white slopes. He had mastered water ski’s like a pro, so this was going to be a piece of cake. I, on the other hand was not overly athletic and spent most of my time hating water skiing since I could rarely get up and most often was only accomplishing the splits or being drug face first into the waves.
Looking back, I have pondered why I considered this group of people my friends because the slogan “good friend’s don’t let friend’s drive drunk” could have applied here with a few changes such as, “good friend’s don’t put Tom and Shelli on a ski slope unattended”. Anyway, they did and we were. While our friends merrily raced past us at speeds of about 100 mph, barreled down the black slopes and worked on their jumps, Tom and I stayed on the bunny slope trying to figure out why people would scream “traverse!” when we were headed in a straight shot towards the lodge, or “plow!” when we were reaching the bottom of the slope. I still remember Tom skiing the slope backwards and me laughing so hard I couldn’t keep my balance, this was most certainly turning into an interesting day!
The hardest part of all though was trying to position ourselves to get on the ski lift. Anyone who ski’s knows that you have to get in position fast and stay upright in order to land correctly when the chair comes and swaps you on the backside. This is not easy to do for beginners and several times we found ourselves losing our balance and falling over. It was tiring and frustrating but after several attempts we started getting it somewhat figured out.
Several hours later, we began to feel a bit more sure of ourselves and decided to take the lift up to the top of the blue slope. With our new found confidence in tact and pretty certain that we would soon have these slopes mastered like the pro’s we continued practicing whatever skills we thought we had. Of course there were many falls on the way down and for a change of pace we determined that we would catch the ski lift in the middle of the slope and not at the bottom for once. This is where the unexpected came along and caught us by surprise!
I don’t know if we hadn’t asked or weren’t listening but for whatever reason what happened next was a scenario that would have made a Hollywood stunt man proud! We positioned ourselves ready for the lift, turned around to grab our chair, only to notice……there were people already on them! It never crossed our minds that when the lift was at the bottom of the slope, it had loaded people and would pick up more midway. We were so busy getting in position that we didn’t think to look behind us and see if any empty chairs were coming our direction!
Well, one can only imagine what chaos and confusion was soon to unfold. As the husband and wife duo approached us I could see the look of horror on their faces when they began to realize that we could not get out of the way fast enough! Grabbing the pole to the lift, we strategically, yet quite ungracefully, landed on their laps! I think Tom landed on the man and I on the woman, but all I know was the ground was getting further away and we were heading higher and this wasn’t going to work for very long! Whether we fell, were pushed or just collapsed of sheer humiliation, I don’t know, but we became airborne and after falling several feet, we landed…..face first….in the snow….sprawled out like fallen snow angels.
My sunglasses and skis were strung out somewhere near me and my face stung like I had been slapped, my body was sore and I wasn’t sure whether I was or wasn’t alright. The entire ski lift was stopped and skier’s rushed over to make sure we were o.k. I thought briefly of tunneling my way through the snow and escaping into the side of the mountain where I could live like a snow bunny for the rest of my days, never having to face humanity ever again. However, since I don’t like the cold I knew this wasn’t a workable option. Instead, I let them help me up as I glanced over to see what had happened to Tom. After finding his skis and pulling himself together, he slammed both of his poles into the side of the hill and exclaimed, ” I am never going skiing again!”
That is when the whole thing struck me as incredibly funny! The scenario that had unfolded at that moment was beyond hilarious….it was an unforgettable incident and if there had been camcorders back then I’m pretty sure America’s Funniest Videos would have made us rich! How many people fall off of a ski lift anyway? We might have broken some record somewhere that we didn’t even know existed! Just think of all the people who witnessed this and might need a good laugh someday and they will tell this story! They were kind not to laugh on that day but human nature tells me it probably didn’t last, it was going to be one of those “one time when we were”…stories. To this day, when I find myself remembering that experience I laugh. I have thought about it in the middle of the night at times and have to stifle a giggle or two!
There are a lot of reasons we should stop and laugh at ourselves. For one thing, because life has enough troubles and drama. If one can find the humor in the things that go wrong and no one is hurt, we may as well have some fun with it! It is good to not take ourselves so seriously, but rather, to accept that we are human and that means we are not perfect. It also gets us back up and back out there to try again once more and not be a quitter. Besides, I have no scripture that immediately comes to mind, but I am pretty sure that God smiles and He must laugh, because He has to watch us all the time and I can only imagine what it looks like on His end!
I did ski again after that, I think Tom did too. I wouldn’t doubt that he doesn’t have a good laugh over this as well from time to time. I have moved to a different area where there are new friends who have informed me that we will have to go skiing here when the snow comes. This sounds like great fun, and because it is cross country, everyone knows what that means! There… will …be….no…. ski lifts!