The Art of Rituals: 8 Sure Fire Ways to Make Moments Last Forever

Posted by Jill on December 9, 2013
My first memories of skiing are of the rituals with my family.  Back in the days of 20-40 minute chairlift rides and an occasional hour wait in line, my parents were quite creative in entertaining two young children.  Their inventive ways of keeping our attention and attitudes bright on the ski hill are now some of our fondest memories.  These rituals became embedded in our experience as skiers and as a family.
Snowmama Jill with her Mom, Dad and Brother
Some of my favorite rituals were on the chairlift. We would sing songs, play clapping games with our hands and "I Spy."  They would entertain us and eventually we were entertaining each other.  Once we were off the chair, our ritual turned to the trees.  Our dad would lead us through any tree-laden path possible.  Initially, their goal was one run and then that grew to five runs, until it wasn't considered a ski day unless we skied at least seven runs (remember this was back in slow chair days).  The reward after a day or hour on the slopes: hot chocolate brimming with marshmellows.  

My brother and I both took lessons throughout our youth.  Our instructors and coaches were key to our ongoing development, but our family always came together each week to connect on the mountain. Regardless of age and attitude (think pre-teen years), our ritual of skiing as a family brought us together. When we could not find words or agree at home, the mountain was our refuge and a zone of nuetrality. No questions were asked, but somehow answers surfaced in the fresh air and the rhythm of our skis on the snow.

Fast forward to today and rituals are beginning with my children. I've noticed that many of the rituals I treasured serve as inspiration.  Here are a few ideas for your own family rituals:

  • Hot chocolate!  Or as my son Nils noted after a day of skiing "Mom, I need a kiddie cocktail!"  (Trust me, mom needed "mommy juice" that day).  Whether it's hot chocolate or a Shirley Temple (Nils' favorite), connecting after a day of skiing is a long time ritual of the sport and a great way to end the day.
  • Fires and hot tubs!  Get warm, get cozy, relax and play games!
  • Sing!  I often hear both of my children singing as they ski.  I catch myself jamming to music in my mind as I ski.  Share songs on the chair and sing as you shred the terrain.  Singing while skiing is so common that PCMR now hosts Singing on the Slopes!
  • Trees, trails, whoop-di-dos and treasures.  Growing up we created our own paths through the trees.  Today, ski areas have developed kid specific terrain.  For example, PCMR has Adventure Alley and they provide a treasure mapSnowmama Heather also details the incredible adventure that awaits at PCMR.
  • Connection.  Regardless of age or differences, the ski slopes often are the nuetral ground for families that have grown together on the slopes.  Snowpapa JD relates to this notion and describes the bond he has with his daughter when they hit the slopes together.  Sometimes all you need is fresh air, the granduer of the mountains and the flow of your skis/board beneath your feet to unwind and let go of stress.
  • Photos, videos, social media... oh my!  Snowmama Lisa shares her love of on-mountain photographers, such as Sharp Shooters.  Our family had our photo taken every Christmas Day throughout our childhood.  This is an amazing ritual and I love looking at the ski gear we wore with pride each passing year.  Go-Pro also provides a great way to capture moments and Snowmama April provides an essential 101 for this device.  One of our family rituals is hanging our old passes on the Christmas tree as ornaments.
  • Speaking of gear... one of the best rituals is picking out your gear for the season ahead.  Whether it's brand new, handed down or found, style is unique to each individual.  Let your children choose their style and allow them to embody the type of skier or boarder they hope to become!
Snowmama Jill with Family
  • Find your own flow and honor the difference of each of your friends and family members.  Some of my favorite memories and rituals were from sharing moments on the hill.  I learned more about myself, my friends, family, even strangers while skiing.  We live in an age filled with technology and opportunties to connect virtually anytime, anywhere.  However, it is essential (and often due to extreme cold and huge flakes) to put the phone away, turn of the camera and tune in to each other.  Like I've said before:  All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Skiing!
At the end of the day, you're skiing!  You're with your family!  Have fun, don't sweat the small stuff, shrug off the trials of cold hands, grumbling bellies and mid-mountain meltdowns.  You'll remember the good with nostalgia and share endless stories of the "bad" while laughing and connecting with those you love.


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