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7 days in winter – that’s all it takes to recharge, reflect and reconnect.

Winter break for my family means a week at Smugglers’ Notch Vermont

I still remember the first week we were here at Smuggs. It was the blizzard of 1996. It was dubbed the blizzard of the century – a severe nor’easter that paralyzed Vermont and other neighboring states.

We packed rented skis because we didn’t know that Smuggs had their own rental facilities – and discounted! We brought our bulky and heavy IBM desktop computer. (My husband and I worked in the I.T. Department).

Needless to say, I over packed the first time we decided to go to Smuggs.

The drive to VT was the scariest we had as a family. Thank God we had the Ford Expedition back then. I could still visualize the icicles that formed on my SUV’s antennae and how frozen the windshield wipers were. But it was an adventure!

The oldest was just 7 years old, the 2nd was just 5 years old and the youngest then, our 3rd child, was just 16 months old.

We thought we would never come back. What a horrible weather we had. Everywhere was icy, I fell so many times learning how to ski, but there was something about that week that made my husband make Smugglers’ Notch our own.

The kids loved the skiing experience. We all enjoyed getting away from the busy and hectic schedule of school and work. We all wanted to come back. My husband analyzed the pros and cons on a spreadsheet, and pointed out that having the option of coming here once a week in the winter is a great investment – for the family!

Even with so many tears of embarrassment on my part since I kept skiing to a tree or a building, that week was a special week.

This winter of 2011 had been long and cold. So a few weeks ago, I wasn’t really looking forward to be surrounded by more snow. But even with snow covered roads and mountains, Smuggs was just different – it is a special place! It’s our home for 7 days in the winter – and it’s a tradition I would like to keep. For how long, I don’t know?

The kids are growing…they are starting to have their own lives, their own schedule. However, my youngest is only 10 and he still has to fill up his memory book with plenty of winters in Vermont.

A week at Smuggs is not just the week of pizza and Ben Jerry’s Chubby Hubby, or a week where we jump into the outdoor heated pool; or a week of making new friends and getting acquainted with old friends; or a week of watching the Science Guy or Marko, the Magician; or a week of walking to the ski lift and skiing down the mountain; or a week of running on a treadmill or going down to the Village for groceries and gallons of water; or a week of sitting on the couch together – all squeezed in, watching a movie. It is the week that helps us focus on ourselves – our family. It’s a week that we get to reflect, laugh and re-charge.

Our 3rd child has grown so much – he is 6 inches taller than I, and is 15 ½ years old today. And our 4th child who just turned 10 and is a reflection of his 3 older siblings. He’s just a reminder that time goes by fast.

Smuggs is home away from home. We do miss the older ones, but it’s a place where the younger ones create their own memories of being together as a family. And just because of that, it’s a place we’ll always come back to.

Maybe someday in the future, I’ll be bringing my grandchildren here, too.

What about you? What is your home away from home?


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