This time of year, when we lived at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, the girls prepared to go back to college in Illinois. It was bittersweet. I missed my girls, but I enjoyed the quiet once I had the house back to myself.
Every Christmas for the three years we lived in Fairbanks, the girls, the Good Chaplain’s mom, and Soccer Stud came to visit. One year they also brought a college friend. They participated in the Christmas revelry of the base and enjoyed the novelty of minus 40 temperatures.
Soccer Stud especially liked the subzero temperatures. On the coldest night, we all bundled up and went to the marquee at the high school on base for a picture under the temperature readings. On his first visit, I promised Soccer Stud’s mom that I wouldn’t let him do anything stupid. But on his first morning, he went onto our snow-covered deck in boots, shorts, and no shirt to take a picture next to the outdoor thermometer! Boys!
While the Good Chaplain’s mom would stay bundled up inside our cozy home, the kids played in the great outdoors, exploring much of what an Alaskan winter had to offer. They went dog-sledding, cross country skiing, sledding, and even learned the fine art of curling.
We took them to visit neighbors. They went with us to Christmas parties and even joined us for the annual New Year’s Eve bonfire on the lake. Yes, the fire was actually built on the lake. It was a little unnerving to hear the ice cracking beneath your feet from the heat of the fire, but the lake was frozen solid, and no danger existed. Finally, after toasting the New Year at midnight, we went home and to bed.
The Chena Hot Springs highlighted one year. It was minus 40 something, but we all donned our swimsuits and headed to the natural hot springs. Since it was so cold out, our hair would freeze in funny compositions. Soccer Stud’s hair was down to his shoulders that year, and as he stood up after getting it wet, it froze at odd angles, sticking up here and there. A group of Japanese tourists started giggling and pointing to him, saying, “Godzilla!” At six-foot-three inches tall with funky hair, he was quite a sight.
All too soon, the vacation was over. The kids and Mom packed up and went to the airport for the early morning flight to Chicago. We gave them props for wanting to visit in the dead of winter and looked forward to the following Christmas when more winter fun would be had.
Until next time,
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!