Sitting in the lobby at the Jordan Grand by the blazing fire, I watch family after family check in for the holiday ski week at Sunday River. If its Boxing Day for most, its packing and moving to the mountains day for skiers. Some arrivals are obvious condo owners, or at least seasoned customers, organized down to their big coolers and crock pots, they know the drill and its a delightful tradition. Then there are the newbies who saved, and stressed about this ski vacation, then stuffed everything randomly into their SUVs. As they open their back hatch, perfectly wrapped packages fall into the snow, ski boot buckles are tangled with poles, and kids climb out of every other opening. Helpful valets rush to provide support to these eager families who are paying premiums for their prime week on the slopes. The lucky kids, oblivious to their parents’ plight, head straight to the cookies and hot cocoa tray by the Christmas tree.
Dads pray there will be good snow and fluffy first tracks, moms hope no one gets hurt and that they didn't forget anything in their hurry to hit the road. Kids are excited to see real snow, and anxious about going to ski school. Credit cards are swiped, luggage is sorted, and its finally time for snow fun, or swimming in the outdoor heated pool.
I know from almost two decades of personal experience with my husband and our two kids, its a lot of effort to take your family to a ski resort – practically a downhill obsession.
Choreographed or chaotic, I am reminded these ski families are all here for the same thing: time away with our family, a magical White Christmas and snowy New Year celebration, the joy of sharing our favorite sport with our kids, making memories in the mountains.
Boring families stay home, it is certainly easier than hauling your whole family to the ski slopes for the holiday. But the best things in life often require bold action and a step beyond the ordinary (read: packing, planning and putting up the $$). I hope all the families vacationing in ski country for this big holiday week are rewarded with big smiles from their kids and irreplaceable mountain memories! I know they are in for some big snow the next few days. Thanks Santa for delivering my wish.
See you on the slopes.
Photos of Sunday River by Greg Burke
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.