Fantastic Friday: Christmas Ice

Read on at the end of this post for a book giveaway.

When I was a kid, my parents used to take my sister and me to the local nature center. Even in the winter, we’d go on hikes there. In addition to an amazing statue of a mama bear and her cubs, the nature center featured several trails. Each one felt different. There was one with a wooden bridge over a swamp that felt like we were somewhere in Florida. There was one that cut through hilly woods that felt more like part of the Appalachian Trail, and there was one that felt very much like it was Connecticut.

The nature center allowed me to be a kid. A good, old-fashioned dig-in-the-mud and observe-all-the-little-things kid. A kid allowed to use her imagination.

One of my most memorable moments there was finding a bit of mud that had turned into dirt and crystallized ice. I showed it to my dad. I remember it was during Christmas break, or shortly after. I asked him what it was—I’d never seen crystallized ice before, embedded in the ground like a small geode.

My dad—who is largely responsible for my imagination, as he fed rather than quelled my childhood fantasies—told me it was Christmas Ice, formed by the magic of the season. He insisted that it only grew this time of year, that it was proof of the magic of Santa and the elves, and that it could never be replicated at other times of year.

To his credit, I never did find such ice any other time of year. It was always only in December. Of course, as a kid I never thought about the fact that Connecticut was essentially covered in snow from January to May, so I wouldn’t have been able to see the ice even if it did exist. Still, the memory stuck with me—along with a time my parents took me to a Christmas village and I swore swore SWORE I saw Santa and his sleigh with the reindeer fly across the moon in silhouette.

This week, we were graced with unseasonably warm weather. My daughter asked if we could play in her sandbox, which is attached to a clubhouse I built for her. It has become a make-shift winter shed for her summer toys, housing a water table and a “cauldron,” a large planter bucket that she uses to make pretend witches brew.

As she was digging through the sand, we found that her water table had filled with rainwater that had frozen over and was now thawing. It came out in several large chunks of ice that she put in her cauldron to make a special “Christmas potion.”


Her new language development this week is “I thought I was going to_____, but then________.” Every time I’ve heard her use this expression has been in disappointment (“I thought I was going to push the garage door button, but then you did it first L ), but this time she used it in a positive way.

“I thought I was going to play sand potion,” she said, “but then I got to make ice potion, too.”

As I helped her get out the largest chunk of ice, I flipped it over to reveal something amazing. The bottom of the ice had crystallized. It was Christmas Ice, something that could only form right around Christmas and something that brought about unexpected joy.

The smile and amazement on her face as she examined her first piece of Christmas ice captured the magic of the season.

And proved that the magic of Santa his elves exists.



In celebration of the holidays, I’m giving away a copy of The Scarred Letter (one print + one paperback) and a copy of Faulkner’s Apprentice.

Enter the giveaway here:

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