I write this from a Vermont mountainside condo. The steep slopes, which should be covered in lovely white snow and peppered with skiers, are strips of brown grass. A chilly rain and dense cloud cover set a gloomy mood. The chair lifts are stationery, the parking lot nearly vacant. It’s a resort ghost town in a historically desirable ski weekend.

Such is the plight of skier life. Last winter, some of the country’s baddest-ass skiing was in the Northeast. We got pleasantly pounded with fresh powder, storm after storm, while the West suffered a painfully dry winter. As luck would have it, last year I had a strong realization that I wanted to get back into skiing, after years of going once or twice a season and renting gear. I decided that skiing was important as a family activity, and we invested accordingly.

This year, the West is enjoying a powdery paradise, while we New Englanders are experiencing a downright tropical December. Thanks El Nino, but I prefer some resemblance of winter to amp up the holiday spirit.

no snow, bald mountain, Sugarbush

A great day for skiing, December 2015, central Vermont

In early November, our family (us four, my parents, and sister and her young family) agreed to hit the slopes over Christmas vacation. We went all out and rented a mountainside condo, perhaps for the first time in my life. We registered the kids for ski school, daycare for the littluns, and a few day passes for the adults.

Instead of hitting the slopes this afternoon, I’m blogging with an IPA while my kids nap, and the guys are “on a hike” to the ski lodge bar. My mom is watching the Patriots game, and my sister’s doing grad school homework, or napping, I can’t tell. This morning we went swimming and played in the bouncy houses at the rec center. My mom and I rowed in the small resort gym. Later this afternoon there’s a s’mores jamboree the kids will dig, and some old school Christmas movies on DVD.

None of us envisioned this when we signed up. But it’s still vacation – it’s mellow, we enjoy each other, we’re not working or cleaning much, and the kids love playing with their cousins. Times like this remind me of Rule #32 of parenting: Be Flexible. So much of our lives is outside of our control. Better to take it as it comes and “walk on the sunny side of the street”, as an old friend liked to say.

Maybe the sun – or the snow – will come out tomorrow.