The Snowflake Party

By Deborah Raney
The first snow of winter hasn’t fallen yet, but in our
kitchen tonight we’re doing a pretty good imitation. The whole family is
circled around the huge old oak table. The snip, snip, snip of scissors is
background music as tiny scraps of white paper float down, making our floor
look like a giant brownie sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Tonight has turned out to be the night for our annual
Snowflake Party, a tradition that began when our children were toddlers. There
has never been a date blocked out in red on our calendar, but one day we wake
up and the brisk autumn air has turned bitter cold. Naked tree branches trace
their stark calligraphy on a dull grey sky and we need a taste of the joyful
promises of Christmas and snow. It’s the perfect time for a party.
On such a day, one of the kids will fly in the back door,
fresh home from school, and declare “Hey, Mom! Tonight would be a good night
for the Snowflake Party!” First we round up every pair of scissors in the
house. This is one time when sharing is not a virtue. While the kids search for
scissors, I cut white paper into squares and fold them caddy-corner multiple
times. The resulting triangles are artfully arranged in a basket, awaiting the
beginning of the party.
Later, while the supper dishes dry on the counter, I recruit
a volunteer to help me stir up a big pot of hot cocoa. For the next hour it
will warm on the back burner, tantalizing us with its aroma.
Now the fun begins with careful cutting and snipping,
shaping plain white paper into intricate works of art. Each snowflake we create
seems as unique and spectacular as the genuine variety created by God himself.
As each masterpiece is unfolded, collective oohs and aahs go up.
When the last dregs of our creative juices are drained, Dad
oversees the vacuum patrol while I pour cocoa into generous mugs. We spread our
handiwork on the floor around us and sit, quietly admiring our work while we
dunk marshmallows and sip rich chocolate.
With empty mugs piled up in the sink, it’s time for the
judging to begin. There will be awards for ‘prettiest’, ‘most unusual’, and as
many other categories as we need for everyone to be a winner. Dad is the judge
because he studied art in college. He also usually wins one of the top prizes––because
he studied art in college.
Snowflakes deemed runners-up might be pasted in scrapbooks
or hung on the refrigerator. A few even “melt” into the trash that very night.
But the winners are taped proudly to the picture windows in the living room for
passersby to enjoy while they long for the day when genuine snowflakes will
color the world clean and white.
Our oldest daughter went away to college last September. She
called just after Thanksgiving to tell me that her dorm window was covered with
snowflakes. No, not the real thing, but the ones she remembers from her
childhood––paper ones that she spent an entire evening cutting and snipping
while sipping hot cocoa.
That’s the neat thing about traditions:
They go with us no matter how far from home we
travel.

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DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to
Cherish, inspired the World
Wide Pictures film of the same
title. Her books have since won the RITA Award, ACFW Carol Award, HOLT
Medallion, National Readers’ Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been
Christy Award finalists. After All, third in her Hanover Falls Novels series
will release next spring from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her
husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. Their four children are
grown now and having snowflake parties with their own children––and they all
live much too far away. Visit Deb on the web at www.deborahraney.com.

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