Teri Orr: Inside the snow globe…
My grandson no longer believes in Santa. It would be a little odd if he did. He is a 6-foot-2 human that weighs 240 pounds. His crazy blonde happy toddler curls are now cut close to his head. The cute jacket with the floppy bear ears is long gone. His pigeon-toed run has straightened out to a strong gait as a linebacker on his high school football team. The days of taking him with his cousins to “see the lights” or the Nutcracker or Santa have passed. When he is not studying or involved in a varsity sport, he has a group of friends who go to movies, have pizza nights and do other pretty normal high school stuff.
And for the past few months — he has had a girlfriend. She is as short as he is tall. A smart sweet slightly sassy freshman too.
He has one of those birthdays — after Thanksgiving — that starts to run into Christmas festivities. His mother does a good job of separating the events and some years the rest of us do and other years it just mushes into a combined gift.
So besides a boring (for me) piece of ski gear he wanted — I was at a loss at how to do something special. I had seen photos of a giant gingerbread creation at Stein Eriksen Lodge. Since he doesn’t drive yet I suggested maybe Tyler might want to ask his girlfriend along to join us for a little drive and some holiday fancy hot chocolate. He thought that sounded kinda fun.
I picked up the pair in a pass-off from his parents in a grocery store parking lot in Salt Lake City. I drove up the canyon listening to their conversation about a lockout at their school the Friday before. There had been one kid — rumored to have a gun — who wanted to do harm. And the rumor expanded to include possible other students so an athletic bus en route to a meet was pulled over and the bags examined. They didn’t seem scared about the incident — they seemed trained to look at the situation and facts and move on. Being prepared and reacting to a school shooting is a part of their young lives.
I remembered six years ago this week when I heard the horrific news about 20 children and six adults who had been murdered on a school day at Sandy Hook Elementary School. My grandchildren were 9 and 10 and 11. And like parents and grandparents everywhere I couldn’t imagine the horror of dropping off your child or grandchild at school and never seeing them again.
I had drifted in my thoughts and realized the kids’ conversation had shifted to the confession by Grace — she had never seen the Star Wars movies. They were an obsessive favorite of Tyler’s young life. The kids were light-hearted, debating movie merits as we drove up to the Lodge.
Once there — we headed up to the lobby and immediately saw the giant dragon’s head Viking ship made of gingerbread — brightly colored and smelling delicious. It was deemed “Pretty Cool.” We were seated at a table in the bar area with soft live jazz music and that spectacular view of the mountains and chair lifts. There were fires burning in all the fireplaces. It was an amazing sight — for a few minutes. But before our chocolate fondue was delivered, a very embarrassed waitress came over and said we needed to move to another table — we were seated too close to the actual bar for two guests under the age of 21.
The kids were good sports as they moved us closer to the lobby and no longer with “those” views. I don’t know why we had been seated there in the first place if it was too close but I didn’t really blame our very young (new I suspect) waitress. I just found it all so sadly comical. I mean I have lived here for 40 years — I understand how quirky the laws are around alcohol in this state. But if I had been from out of state I might have been cranky. Since it would take a while for the table reset I encouraged the kids to wander the lobby. The thought that these kids — who talk about the possibility of school shootings on a daily basis in slightly world-weary practical terms could be damaged by their proximity to someone pouring a cocktail — seemed so silly. The table next to us — with two couples with heavy European accents — looked confused by our move. It did all feel like a bit of kabuki theater.
When the fondue arrived the waitress went into the lobby to find the kids — they had been playing chess by the fire. The fondue lasted a long time with more conversations about their friends and their week ahead and plans for the holidays. I asked a few questions but mostly I just watched the pair enjoy
We drove down to Main Street after and the lights were on full display — the Grappa grape — the Washo red. We made the stop I always make with The Grands — we stopped to wander in Dolly’s Bookstore. Grace met the cat sleeping on the books in the back of the store. Tyler found a football book he wanted. I had to convince Grace to choose a Christmas ornament. Back on the sidewalk as I unlocked the car I pretended not so see when they snuck a kiss on the snowy early evening under the lamp post.
My daughter was waiting at my house and I passed off the teenagers with a giant hug from the giant human who is my grandson and a sweet thank you from sweet Grace. And just for a few holiday winter wonderland hours we were living inside a snow globe where it was safe. And that seemed like more than enough be grateful for this Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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Jay Meehan writes in remembrance of his favorite camping partner.