I've always been a fan of the Olympics. After watching Jean-Claude Killy tear down the mountain in 1968, I wanted to ski. After seeing Peggy Fleming spin like a top, I wanted to skate. Inspiration aside, I lived in the Midwest, not the Minnesota/Wisconsin part of the country with mounds of snow and frozen lakes; but rather, I lived in the Mississippi River Valley near St. Louis, where, for kids, a few inches of snow was cause for celebration.
The winter that stands out in my mind must have been a lot like this one. We got snow, and more snow, the kind that was so deep it snuck over the top of my boots. Nevertheless, I couldn't wait to get outside to play in it. The highlight of each week was when my parents took us to the local golf course to go sledding on hills that seemed like mountains to me.
Several other families joined us, and each Sunday afternoon became a big winter party. Up and down the hills we went, pretending to be Olympic bobsledders or crashing like out-of-control skiers. Finally, exhaustion and wet socks caught up with us, and we retreated to the golf course clubhouse for a big burger, a bowl of soup, and a hot chocolate.
As I watch the Olympics this year, I know the athletes are inspiring the next generation. Kids who are watching may not turn out to be the next Bode Miller or Gracie Gold, but maybe they will be inspired to go out and play in the snow. Maybe they will share family fun on a make-believe mountain followed by good food and warm conversation. Memories like that are golden.