Last winter some friends and I attended a skijoring tournament in a quaint Colorado mountain town. Skijoring is a crazy event in which a horse and rider run at full gallop pulling a snow skier at the end of a rope much like a water skier. The horse pounds down the center of the road while the skier careens from one side to the other to jump a series of ramps and finally joust a set of rings. As we watched the competitors, a young girl and her family stood beside us at the edge of the sidewalk. After a while, the girl squatted down and patted together a tiny snowman and placed him in the middle of the sidewalk. A few pedestrians milling about passed and smiled, a little unsure of what to think, before moving on. Then a boy about twelve years old walked by and kicked it down. A hearty round of “boos” rose from everyone who saw what had happened.
When I looked over at the girl, she was blushing, too shy to make another, though I could tell she wanted to. After a moment, I turned around and scooped up some snow. Before I could finish forming it into a snowball, another woman bent down to help me. We carried our new snowperson onto the sidewalk and made another. Then another appeared. Pretty soon our patch of sidewalk was populated by a family of miniature snowfolk. As pedestrians approached, they slowed. They smiled. They changed course so as not to disturb the little guys. They laughed. They took pictures. Couples holding hands lifted their clasped hands up and over the frozen family as they passed, and everyone along the sidewalk acted as guardians of the little individuals.
Watching people’s lips spread into smiles as they approached became more captivating than the event we had originally come to see. I marveled at how something so simple as a few stacked snowballs had the power to create such a sense of community and inspire such joy. Witnessing the transformation of a wet sidewalk bordered by strangers into a gauntlet of delight among friends literally moved me to tears. It was absolutely magical.
I think that we humans have a knack for making certain things incredibly complicated when they are really quite simple. Joy doesn’t come from expensive presents. It doesn’t require extravagant overtures. Joy is right here, right now waiting to enchant us as soon as we’re willing to open our hearts to it. All it needs is an invitation, even if it’s just from a young girl and a few frozen snowballs.
Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season.
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