Reflections: New Steps

Mitch & Mariah Santala – a daddy & daughter taking a snow walk.
Christmas 2012

“Wake up, Daddy. It’s snowing!” I gently shook his shoulder to awaken him. “Oh, wow! Yes, I’ll be ready in a minute.” Mom opened one eye from her side on their bed, mumbled something like, “You two are crazy,” and rolled over. I went downstairs, bundled up in my warmest jacket, scarf, wooly mittens, earmuffs, boots and waited for my dad. In just minutes he too was bundled up, wearing his old worn, leather snow cap with the woolen pull-down ear flaps. Now you might think I was a child. Well, no, even though dad and I had been doing this since I’d been a child. This particular night I was home for Christmas vacation from college and when I couldn’t sleep and awoke to see it snowing – all my memories came rushing back. 

As silently as possible, we slipped out the front door, down the steps and stood gazing up as the large flakes fell noiselessly upon us. The moon made them shimmer as they fell. With my mittened hand in my dad’s big gloved hand, we walked slowly, our footprints crunching in the snow as we went.  There was nothing extraordinary about our little ritual – just a moonlit, snowy walk shared by a dad and daughter. And yet to me it was magical.  As a child, our walks had been down the block and back, and we’d talked of what I’d be when I grew up. Tonight I needed reassuring that the decisions I was making and the direction I’d chosen for my life were right for me.  I asked my dad how I could know.

Many blocks later we arrived at our destination – a lovely park, silent and undisturbed except for the snowflakes cascading all around us. Daddy turned to me and said, “Tell me what you see and feel right now.” I couldn’t help smiling as I shared that I felt the warmth of him standing next to me, sheltering me in the wind, that I felt his strong hand holding mine, and as I looked around could see the steps we had made as we’d kicked and tromped through the snow, while in front of us the path was pristine and untouched.  Then he turned and said, “Honey, this is a lot like life. Those of us who love you can’t always be next to you sheltering you and holding your hand, but you will always feel us in your heart.  Look behind you and you’ll see the steps we’ve taken with you. But you must go ahead into the unknown future that God has prepared you for on your own.” And with that he picked up some snow and we had ourselves a “doosy” of a battle!

Daddy’s hat.

May all of us in this New Year take the steps necessary to guide our children towards the goals and decisions that will one day shape their futures.  At Fireflies, it is our goal to inspire you as young families and teachers to create lifelong memories.  Perhaps that may look like a walk in the snow with your child while wearing an old worn hat, perhps sharing a story or two that we recommend this month, maybe our “S is for Snow” puppet show, or making our kid-friendly recipe.  Who knows? It may only be a “walk” to you, but for your child it may be a magical memory that will last forever.

Mary Byrne Kline


  1. Jan Mengel says:

    Oh my…thank you Mary!

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