I have had countless amazing Christmases in my 50 years, but I have to say waking up to 10 or so inches of snow on Monday immediately elevated this one.
I’m still like a little kid when it snows.
But part of what made it so nice happened when I was snow-blowing the driveway and a family of four came cross-country skiing down Jerome Avenue.
Here’s where I’ll try to explain the brain of a journalist a little.
You see, everything translates into stories in our brain, and as the winter recreation columnist for The Post-Star, this family was a neat opportunity for a different type of column, I thought.
I immediately grabbed my cell phone from my pocket and, perhaps creepily to them, started snapping pictures before flagging them down to explain myself.
Thankfully they stopped, and thankfully they had read my columns before and I didn’t have to explain too much.
The dad, local surgeon Michael Lieberth, said his family lives just a street over on Horicon and decided it was a great opportunity to get outside. We didn’t talk much then, because they had a rhythm going, but I got his number and called back a day later.
“It was great. A beautiful morning,” he said in that follow-up chat. “That was the best for me, all of us going out together like that.”
He was also speaking about his third daughter, 6-year-old Madeleine, who started the Christmas trek with the others but got picked up by her grandparents at a halfway point.
Part of why I flagged them down, I think, is because they reminded me of my family a little, with daughters who are obviously being raised to enjoy winter. It also reminded me of one snowy Christmas morning when my now 20- and 17-year-olds were little and we went sledding on Christmas morning on the little hill behind Kensington School.
The tiny hill seemed monstrous and fun to those little-legged beings back than. We made a jump too and I’m sure we topped it off by wrapping those chilly little hands around warm cups of hot chocolate as a treat.
The together time that morning made Christmas for me.
Joy Lieberth, Michael’s wife, said Monday’s Christmas similarly will be hard to beat for them.
They set out from their home and skied down Horicon, up Kensington and down Jerome toward Cole’s Woods, she said.
When Michael and older daughters Katherine, 12, and Caroline, 11, ducked into Cole’s Woods to ski the city trails, Joy stayed with Madeleine and waited for her parents to come by with the car to pick her up.
When the trio emerged from Cole’s Woods, Joy joined them for the return ski home down Jerome, and past me.
“The best groomed trails were the streets!” Joy said with a laugh. “We were thanking the city.”
And when the skiing was over, the family headed to the movie theater to see the latest Star Wars movie, she said.
“It was a blockbuster day!”
Both Lieberths, who hail from the Midwest, spoke about how great the winter opportunities are in this region, from downhill skiing just minutes away at West Mountain to free, lit cross-country trails in Cole’s Woods able to be reached without getting in a car. They also talked about skating, both on Crandall Pond and at the adjacent Glens Fall Recreation Center, where Caroline plays hockey.
Michael also spoke excitedly about how he and Katherine were in Cole’s Woods at night after this year’s first big snow.
“That was pretty sweet,” he said, taking a moment to praise the Friends of Cole’s Woods for maintaining the trail system so well. “The fresh snow and being there first under the lights is spectacular.”
It was obvious the Lieberths had a great snowy-fun-filled Christmas, and in doing so they made mine that much better too!