Growing up in rural Oklahoma, we didn’t have a lot of money or things. We played a lot in our backyard with things we built, grew, or found. Sometimes, if we were lucky, one of my parents would come out and play with us. Sometimes my Dad even built things with us, like our tree house made of scrap lumber, a chicken coop, or our garden where we grew vegetables. My favorite Christmas memory, though, was when he built a sled.
We got snow only a couple of times every winter, so it was a special thing every time. Usually it was just a “dusting” of snow, but now and then we would have enough to play in, build snowmen, and wage snowball wars. Even rarer were the times it was deep enough to sled on. One Christmas, we got one of those snows. My grandparents lived about a mile away, and my dad suggested we take a walk. I didn’t know what he had in mind- it was cold and the snow was deep. I wasn’t sure my short legs were up to the challenge! But my dad had thought of everything. He took a laundry basket off the washing machine, grabbed some rope from the garage, and made a chariot for me to ride in. Off we went on our snowy walk.
That in itself was a memory, but then Christmas morning arrived. Under the tree was a very oddly shaped present for me and my little sister. Upon further inspection, I saw my laundry basket chariot had been quickly updated. Under the tree was a brand new sled, complete with green wood and shiny steel runners! My dad and grandfather had found an old sled frame at the old family homestead, and worked together to put on a new body and get it ship-shape. Our backyard was perfect for riding on it. It was about half an acre long, and sloped gently all the way down to a nice flat bottom area. Oh, the fun we had with a generations-old sled, secure in the love of our dad!
Fast forward a few years, and the laundry basket chariot idea came back full circle. My soon to be fiance had sprained her MCL, just as classes at college were called off for a snow day. Snow was everywhere, perfect for snowball fights, Ultimate Frisbee games, and picture-perfect photos of our beautiful brick campus. My girlfriend couldn’t walk on the slippery sidewalks, but I had a solution. I picked her up at her place, armed with my laundry basket and a borrowed jump rope. I pulled her all across campus, about half a mile, for her to watch a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee outside my apartment. We still laugh about how much slush got in the bottom of the basket, how cold she got, and how sweet she was not to complain as I pulled and grunted through the snow. The next evening, I asked her on another snowy walk, where I asked her to be my wife. She said yes! My kids are young, and we live in southern California these days, but I can hardly wait for another snow day, complete with a laundry basket chariot. Thanks for the memory, Dad!
Chris was moved to start dadblogging after realizing firsthand how difficult parenting can be. He found limited resources for fathers, and quickly found out there is no "How to" manual for parenting! He hopes the community approach of Encouraging Dads will be helpful to all the other dads (and moms) out there who want to make a positive difference in their children's lives. In addition to this site, he has written two illustrated children's books and has been published in multiple magazines, blogs, and parenting research articles.