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Families That Play Together, Stay Together

T.W. Winslow


Sharing common experiences is one way of helping to keep families close. With our busy lives pulling us in so many directions and our children growing up so quickly, finding new ways to connect to our partners and our children is extremely important. This not only helps to build strong bonds, but lasting memories as well.

One way of doing this is through play. Establishing a family game night can be a fun way of bring everyone together. Taking a class such as beginning pottery or painting, learning a musical instrument or sport. Anything which is fun and brings the family together is great. Recently my family put this theory to the test.

Inspired by divine intervention, a random thought, or a complete laps in sanity (I'm not sure which), I decided our family would take to the slopes and learn to snowboard. My wife and I have skied all our lives and surmised snowboarding just couldn't be that much different. I figured with a few quick trips down the mountain, my wife and I would be snowboarding experts and ready to help our children learn this new sport. As my aching backside can attest, things didn't go quite as I had planned.

Fresh from the sporting goods store, we jumped in the car and headed for the ski hill. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, there was fresh snow awaiting us on the mountain, and our spirits were high. As we made our way to the resort, I regaled our children with stories of my skiing prowess. By the time we reached the mountain, our collective confidence was high and we were ready for this new challenge of snowboarding... after all, how hard could it be?

As we unloaded our gear from the trunk, we watched as people made their way down the steep slopes seemingly without effort. It was inspiring. That will be me, I thought to myself. My first dose of reality came at the ticket counter.

"I'd like four lift tickets please," I said with confidence.

The young man behind the counter eyed the price tag still dangling from my gleaming new snowboard. "First time up," he asked?

I nodded as I fumbled for my wallet. "Might I suggest going with rope-tow passes for the bunny hill instead of chair lift tickets?" he said with a tone of concern in his voice. "You can always trade them in later in the day if you feel you are ready for the more challenging runs."

Clearly he has no idea who he's talking to, I thought. The bunny hill is an insult to my skiing ability, not to mention my dignity as a man. But, thinking of the children I decided the bunny hill might not be such a bad idea. After all, we'd easily conquer it by lunch and could then trade our passes in for chair lift tickets. "Okay", I said begrudgingly.

We made our way to the bunny hill. It was packed with beginners, young and old alike. You could hear loud thuds as people lost their balance and fell hard in the snow. Loose skis and various articles of clothing - gloves, hats, scarfs, littered the slope, lost by those unfortunate souls who couldn't manage to stay upright. I laughed to myself as I locked my foot into my binding and headed for the rope-tow. I'll show them how it's done.

"Watch Dad," I said to my wife and children as they watched me take hold of the rope.

If any of you have ever wondered if it is unpleasant to be trust head-first into an ice covered mountain and drug up to the top while using your face as a snow plow, let me assure you, it is. Okay, so perhaps I underestimated the difficulty of making the transition from skis to snowboard. But then again everyone falls once in a while, I thought as I removed snow and ice from inside my coat and snow-pants. Looking down the hill I saw my wife and children watching me, mouths wide open. My wife was shaking her head as to say, "Don't be an idiot. Walk down the hill and save us a major medical bill."

Undaunted, I jumped to my feet and pointed the front of my board straight down the hill. People told me later I resembled a large snowball thundering down the hill. Others said I screamed the entire way down, though I choose not to believe that. The only thing I recall with any certainty is the loud thud my body made when it hit the hard snow, and my children asking me if I was alright when my lifeless body finally came to a rest at the bottom of the hill.

The rest of that first day of snowboarding for me entailed watching my wife and children as they quickly mastered the sport while I sipped hot chocolate and nursed my pride. One thing's for sure, I never did exchange our rope-tow passes for chair lift tickets.

Though I found out I'm not going to be the next snowboarding champion, our family did have a great time and since then have returned to the ski hill many times. And despite my aches and pains, bumps and bruises, snowboarding has indeed brought our family closer together. The old saying, "Families that play together, stay together," is true enough, but I'm thinking a few words of qualification should be tacked on to the end of that saying. "Families that play together, stay together - assuming they survive."

Family Game Night

Passing Thoughts is a syndicated weekly column written by T.W. Winslow - read by millions around the world each week. To get the new Passing Thoughts column sent to you FREE each week via email, subscribe at: For reprint info, contact the author at:

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