Being the mother of teen-aged daughters is bitter-sweet. I delight in the passing of diaper bags, daycare bills, temper tantrums, and happy-meals (don’t tell the Golden Arches). Along with developing beyond these inconveniences so too pass the little moments I cherish. Also gone are the requests to “hold me,” the bed-time stories, the nighttime bedroom visitor with tiny cold feet, and the need for mom’s reassurance the night before the first day of school. It is rewarding to watch your children develop into more than you could have ever imagined. Yet watching these milestones pass leaves a parent nostalgic for time gone by. Recently a new chapter started in our house after we came clean to our youngest daughter about “The Big Man in Red.” Funny, she was probably pretending to believe to not hurt our feelings. We didn’t want to crush her innocence so we all played along, much longer than I had hoped.
This year since she knew and we knew she knew, we decided to try something different. We abandoned the Clement Moore scene and opted for a family trip. After deciding our primary destination requirement, snow, we began planning a trip to Vermont for the holidays. Many late night hours of Internet searching resulted in a decision to visit two locations, Stowe and Smuggler’s Notch. The moment school ended, we embarked on our journey driving through the night to Vermont.
First we headed to Stowe. It turned out to be everything I imagined in a Vermont town. I almost expected to meet Dick, Larry, Daryl or the other brother Daryl walking down the street. We stayed at the quaint but impressive Green Mountain Inn located in the heart of town. Many shops and restaurants were within walking distance and we loved exploring as the snow fell. The late night researches resulted in discovering Laughing Moon Chocolates. Along with delicious confectioneries, visitors are able to observe the daily creation of various chocolates and candy canes. Leigh and her staff explain the entire candy cane process and allow spectators the opportunity to roll and shape their own. I’ll be honest and say this wasn’t the diet friendly part of the trip because Laughing Moon was only the beginning of “good eats.” Dinner at Frida’s, the Ben and Jerry’s tour and goodies from Cold Hollow Cider Mill were also must stop locations.
After a couple days at Stowe, we headed to Smuggler’s Notch which was a completely different experience. Here the focus wasn’t on the quaint Vermont village but rather winter sports. Our spacious accommodations on the slopes meant we could ski out the back door and easily return for lunch. At the resort we found a number of activities and something for everyone. Christmas Eve at Smuggs, that’s what the locals call it, was just the type of experience we needed to keep us from wishing for the “night before Christmas” at home. The resort hosted a sing-a-long and fireworks display, where the Jolly ‘Ole Elf arrived on a slope groomer behind the lighted ski patrol parade. The evening culminated with a candle-light service.
The trip was our family gift and while we brought some small gifts for the girls to open they weren’t expecting anything. We were in the moment spending time together. Admittedly this was the first holiday in a long time that was relatively stress-free. There were far fewer gifts to purchase and no sleepless nights of wrapping. On Christmas Eve our youngest daughter was wishing for a tree so my husband found a branch for the girls to decorate. Together they made strings of popcorn and fruit snack to drape on the Charlie Brown tree.
As the girls grow to need me less I will miss the days of cookie crumbs left by Santa, footed pajamas and the wonderment of Christmas morning in their eyes. This new family trip tradition makes their growing up less bitter. The sweetness of the opportunity to foster new memories coming together as a family is a joy we will all remember for many years to come.