Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 10, 2013

John Cannon: A family tradition continues: 12/11/13

John Cannon
The Independent

ASHLAND — I was returning home from church late Sunday morning when my 4-year-old granddaughter greeted me at the back door to inform me what she and I were going to do that afternoon.

“Hey, Peepaw!” Brooklyn said excitedly. “Guess what we are going to do? We are going sledding!”

I was tired and sliding down a snow-covered hill on a plastic sled designed for a child did not appeal to me in the least.

“Oh boy! I can hardly wait,” I deadpanned, but if Brooklyn noticed my lack of excitement, she never mentioned it.

My wife then informed me our daughter and she were going on the Christmas Tour of Homes, and while they were gone, I was in charge of Brooklyn. Worse yet, she had already told my granddaughter Peepaw was going to take her sledding in the back yard.

What could I say? I was trapped. Besides, sledding in our back yard is a family tradition that dates the nearly 35 years my wife and I have lived in Ashland. It had begun with our oldest son, now 46, and our two youngest children, now 36 and almost 34, and continued with our oldest granddaughter, now 18. But Brooklyn, who turned 4 on Sept. 2, had never gone sledding, mainly because snows ideal for sledding were getting rarer and rarer in these parts. But Sunday was one of those rare snowfalls, and Brooklyn was determined to take advantage of it.

The problem is sledding is not getting any easier for me. When my children were young, I was still in my 30s and I confess I had as much fun as they did sliding down the two hills in our yard. When my oldest granddaughter was young, I may have been old enough to be called “over the hill,” but I still could go down the hill with granddaughter No. 1 just like I had with her mother and uncle.  The only change was I could not do it as often or as skillfully as I had with my children.

But now I am 65 and definitely so over the hill I no longer want to go down the hill.

As I have written previously, we have a great yard for sledding. It is divided into three levels separated by two steep hills. You can start at the top level, slide down the first hill, travel for about 20 or so feet on level ground before hitting a second hill that will speed you to the lowest level.  A good ride down the two hills probably only takes about 30 seconds, but it is worth the trip.

With the help of her older sister, we dressed Brooklyn to go out and play in the snow Sunday afternoon with warm pants, a long-sleeved sweatshirt, heavy socks, boots, gloves, a knit hat and a scarf. When she was dressed, Brooklyn could hardly move. That’s how I knew she was ready.

Brooklyn decided she wanted to just go down the lower hill instead of both hills. I put the sled at the top of that hill and told her to get on,

“Peepaw, I have to go potty,” Brooklyn said.

I looked at her and sighed. This was not going to be easy, but we went inside and stripped her down. We then had to dress her again.

Once safely on the slide, Brooklyn began to have second thoughts about sledding. I quickly dashed those thoughts by giving the sled a shove with my foot. Before Brooklyn could protest, she was headed down the hill. When she reached the bottom, she was completely silent for a few seconds, then she said, “That was fun!”

I gave a sigh of relief. We played some more before finally going inside to get out of the cold and, more importantly, out of our wet clothes.

I suspect the family sledding tradition came to an end Sunday afternoon. I really am too old for sledding, and if Brooklyn wants to do it again, she can have some friends over for a sledding party I will watch through our garden window from the comfort of our dining room.

But late Sunday night, Brooklyn came upstairs, knocked on the door of my office where I was working on the computer and said, “Thank you for taking me sledding, Peepaw. It was fun.”

Even though I was more than a little sore by then, that made it all worthwhile. Another family tradition has been passed on to the next generation.

JOHN CANNON can be reached at (606) 326-2649.