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Redmond: Christmas Eve Memories Christmas Eve_122512_Redmond.mp3

(Host) For writer, journalist and commentator Marybeth Redmond, the seeds of creating a simpler life in Vermont were sown many, many Christmas Eves ago.

(Redmond) My childhood Christmas Eve memories are filled with sledding and noisy laughter from deep within green forest caverns on Okemo Mountain. In anticipation of Santa's impending visit, my siblings and I would practically vibrate with pent-up energy.

One Christmas Eve when I was 10, we trudged through the woods to a ski slope under a moonlight sky. We positioned our compact bodies onto our sledding device of the moment... this time, rectangular cafeteria trays we had borrowed from the mountain restaurant. The packed, groomed trails provided us with thrilling rides. Collisions and face-plants at the bottom of shimmering hills occurred with regularity - until a tearful injury for the youngest sledder ended the sliding spree.

We arrived home to drink mugfulls of Swiss Miss cocoa until we had clown-like smiles of chocolate on our lips and cheeks. Later, we returned the trays to their owner.

Another Christmas Eve, we constructed an icy luge run that spiraled its way through the trees and sent us into a series of exciting hair-pin turns.

Whatever possessed my Long Island, New York parents with five kids to buy a log cabin in Vermont, I'll never know! But from the time I was 7, we would cram into our Ford station wagon and jet north on the interstate to spend every single Christmas week in Vermont. Thanksgiving and winter breaks too.

Two of us kids would sprawl across the rear compartment of the car, perched atop the luggage and the Christmas presents buried beneath. This scenario was, of course, before seatbelt laws.

With no telephone or TV in the Ludlow house, we youngsters would ski by day and wander our open-air playground by night. Evenings by the fire, we entertained each other with the adventures of our days.

For my parents, it was a brilliant way to yank us out of an increasingly sophisticated social scene as we grew into high schoolers, and cars and parties became the order of the day. Our family spent peaceful Christmas Eves together in a kind of simple living I longed to create when I became an adult.

I settled in northern Vermont with my own family more than a decade ago. And we continue the great Christmas Eve sledding tradition. Our inner-tubes have barreled down the hillside at the Round Church in Richmond, blessed by candle-light from the church windows nearby. This year though, we've graduated. My 10-year-old son wants try Casey's Hill in Underhill, where we'll take it up a notch if they'll have us. Wish us luck.

Marybeth Redmond is a writer-journalist who co-directs "writinginsideVT" a program that brings incarcerated women's words from inside - out.
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