Gingerbread Houses and Other Wintery Things

Wednesday I spent the day with Desirae, a good old friend of mine who shared “total nerd” status with me in third grade. We bonded immediately, and we’ve managed to stay in touch pretty regularly since then, thanks to good ol’ snail mail. It’s always nice to see her again.
She invited me over to her house around noon, where we immediately set to work making gingerbread houses. But not just any gingerbread houses. Deluxe houses complete with M&M trees, marshmallow snowmen, and powder sugar snow to cover the rooftops.
My masterpiece had a Skittles fence, candy cane door and windows, and Nerds Christmas lights. I have rekindled my love for making gingerbread houses.
After putting half the candy on our houses and the other half in our tummies, I was invited to be a part of their large extended family bowling trip. So we all piled into cars and headed to the bowling alley across from the cemetery. 

It started to snow lightly about then, which I looked at with a bit of dread. I love snow and everything like that, but I had left the house that morning in my new (very flimsy) black ballet flats. Probably the last shoes you want to be wearing in a snow storm, right after leather gladiator sandals. They have zero traction or ability to retain heat (though a remarkable ability to retain water, thus wiggling and warping away).
So getting out of the car, I tiptoed cautiously toward the door of the bowling alley, looking down intently and scoping out any uncovered or already trodden patches of ground to walk on. I was safe for now.
Bowling was great. I haven’t bowled since high school probably, and while I had a great winning streak initially– thanks entirely to the little kiddie bumper things– I started gutter-balling a way-too-frequent amount after they told us we were too old for the gutter bumpers and took them away from us.
I am a terrible bowler. But it was fun anyway.
The snow was even deeper when we got back outside. There had to be at least an inch out there. It was difficult picking my way to the car without getting snow up the sides of my little shoes.
I was beginning to doubt my origins as a Montanan. No true Montanan would wear those shoes anywhere near the month of December. What was I thinking?
After bowling, we headed back to Desirae’s house, where we lounged about and chatted for an hour or so while we waited for the appropriate time to head over to Desirae’s aunt and uncle’s house for dinner.
While we waited, Desirae and I chatted with two of her younger brothers. The Friesens produce boys, and Des’ family is no different. She’s the oldest, and then came along three Y chromosomes.
Desirae and I sat in the kitchen, chatting with two of them — mostly making fun of the third who wasn’t in the kitchen. He, the youngest, was downstairs with his “friend” Mags (her real name is Hannah — not sure where that nickname came from).
The joke started when one of the boys went downstairs and found Charlie and Mags sitting remarkably close to each other on the couch. Being the good brother that he is, he went upstairs and reported the incident to everyone in the kitchen, including their mother. She looked worried, but didn’t say much.
The other brother went down a few minutes later, and came back to report that while Charlie was still sitting up, Mags was now laying down with her head on his lap.
Scandalous!
We were all getting a huge kick out of the situation, planning teams to head down to the basement at infrequent intervals to break up the two little lovebirds. One of the brothers even found a semi-automatic air rifle and tried to figure out how to use it (with the intent of catching the two off-guard with a few plastic pellets, naturally).
Gotta love brothers.
It was finally time for food, and we headed over to a giant dinner party with Des’ extended family. It was a delicious meal of steak, chicken, salmon, garlic bread, potatoes, and a great salad with almonds, pecans and dried cranberries. Yummy! I almost died and went to heaven with the whole meal.
And while talking to some of her extended family, I heard the coolest story.
One of Desirae’s cousins, Christina (now twenty years old), was adopted by her uncle Rick when she was sixteen. The story of how they met is remarkable.
They were both on the same flight from L.A. to Salt Lake City, with seats right next to each other. Rick was going home to Montana, and Christina was headed on to a group home in Mississippi. Rick started making casual airplane conversation with her, asking her where she was headed and what she was up to, etc. And over the course of the flight, it came out that Christina’s birth mother had given her up when she was an infant and it had since become unsafe for her to stay with her birth father. So she’d been bounced around to foster homes, and it finally came to the point where she was headed to a group home to live (for her last couple years before officially becoming an adult).
Desirae’s uncle was really struck by this, and the fact that her future hope was to find a family to foster and adopt her. So when he went home, he talked to his wife about meeting Christina. He asked for permission to find her, and after a few months of dead-end and pass-along calls, he finally discovered where she was and was able to get her last name and more detailed information.
And from that first plane flight, it was only about a year until they adopted Christina and she became a part of the family.
Incredible story, right?
I can’t think about it without astonishment. It reaffirms my faith in human kindness and our ability to look beyond ourselves to help others. Unbelievable.
After eating that delicious dinner, Desirae and I headed back to her house for game night. By then the snow was falling at an alarming rate, and I was quite worried.
Mostly about my shoes.
Also, one of Desirae’s brothers (a junior in high school) drove us the several blocks back to her house and he refused to properly wipe off his windshield. Which meant that he could only see out a tiny speck of windshield. And he could only see the snow tracks. Nothing else. Awesome.
The last part of the evening was a night of board games. Desirae had invited a few other friends over, and we all sat around the kitchen table playing Trivial Pursuit for a couple hours.
Except this wasn’t just any Trivial Pursuit. This was the pursuit of all things trivial prior to 1981. That was the copyright date on the box. So basically we were trying to guess on Entertainment and Sports questions that referenced pop culture of the seventies.
It was very challenging.
But overall, very very fun.
Mostly because we were still decent at Nature & Science and Art & Literature. When talking about the classics, Desirae can beat anyone.
However, all good things must come to an end. It was getting late and everyone had to go home. It had been a very long day for me too, since I’d been hanging out with Desirae for almost twelve hours.
I think it’s a testament to the strength of a friendship that you can spend so long together without getting tired or running out of things to talk about.
Desirae drove me home, which was great because she had parked her parent’s car in the garage– so I only had to get outside once.
We drove up to my house. There, sitting between me and my dad’s front door, was at least thirty feet of fresh, untrodden snow. A pleasant four inches of it.
I was faced with a dilemma. Do I run to the house in my shoes, risking ruin of my lovely new flats? Or do I take them off and go barefoot (thus saving my shoes but possibly losing a couple toes)?
I chose the latter. Still in the car, I stripped off my flats and little black socks. I secured my purse and pulled out my keys. And then, with a laughing goodbye to Desirae, I bolted out of the car and sprinted across the yard, up a flight of stairs, and across an outdoor balcony — all covered with at least four inches of thick, fluffy, freeeeezing snow.

I feel like that incident regained me the right to call myself a Montanan. Because I’d gladly run barefoot through snow to save my shoes.

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Filed under Loving Right Now, Montana

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