As children, we believed our parents gave us Christmas sleds because they wanted us to have fun.
Wrong. They knew children already had too much fun.
Instead, as card-carrying members of the Great Sledding Conspiracy, they purchased sleds to ensure their own survival. Their brains atrophied by 573 games of Candy Land, mothers and fathers ordered us to go sledding.
“Fresh air is good for you,” they said.
Chances were, they’d given us a Flexible Flyer, whose sharp runners could slice through granite. We hurtled down hills, often vaulting over streams, stumps and each other … standing up.
This was good for us?
I was surprised to discover the inventor of the Flexible Flyer, Samuel Leeds Allen, was a Quaker. Maybe this desperate father of six strove for peace by concocting ways to keep his tribe outdoors.
Perhaps both Dad and Samuel belonged to the Conspiracy for an additional reason: they’d lower food bills permanently by lessening the population at home.
Mr. Fowler, another secret member, drove our school bus. While my yard was flat, his nearby house sat atop a tall hill. Even we children realized he endured unspeakable racket, yet Mr. Fowler let us sled on his hill. Such a nice man.
Ha! What better way to lower his bus population and its accompanying decibels?
However, one snowy night, Dad topped Fowler’s ploy, offering to take my siblings and I sledding.
Only when we rendezvoused with Dad’s buddies did we realize the fathers would join their kids’ sleds behind a truck. We would zoom along unplowed country roads.
If we children had been older, we might have realized this plan represented the ultimate in population control. Instead, we believed our dads, like Mr. Fowler, were nice.
Soon, we were skimming past a dark blur of trees, fences and fields at speeds we’d never dreamed of. The only complication: when one sled veered into a drift, the whole line followed. Guess who spun off into drifts the most?
Years afterward, I realized those pauses helped preserve our lives.
Upon our return, Mom immediately deduced Dad had overstepped. No one lied to Mom, including Dad. She soon extracted the whole story. Never again would Dad take her children sledding.
Given my steering, that did not bother him.
Did I buy my children sleds? You bet. With no conscience whatsoever, I joined The Great Sledding Conspiracy.
Though lately, I’ve heard my grandsons have been whipping down snow-covered sand dunes on Lake Michigan shores. Do they stop before zooming onto the lake’s ice? Maybe all the way to Chicago?
But their parents say all that fresh air is good for them.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a member of the Great Sledding Conspiracy?