White Christmas

It was December 2001.  I received an invitation in the mail.  It was a complete surprise.  My mother and her BFF cousin had planned the whole thing together without the knowledge of their husbands or children.  Even my father was surprised by the formal invite he received from his wife in the post.  It read something like this:

“You are invited to join Sandy & Judi in Shaver Lake this Christmas.
A cabin has been rented that has enough space for everyone to stay.  There will be no gifts this year, as this is our gift to our family.  Please join us as we spend time together in the snow…”
Dates, times and directions were given.

I was thrilled to do something different for Christmas!  I was elated to be going to the snow!  I couldn’t wait to leave town!

Shaver Lake

Shaver Lake was only three and a half hours from our house, which made for an easy journey, even in holiday traffic.

Shaver Lake House 2001Shaver Lake in Winter

The tiny village had everything we needed-grocery store, video rental, ice cream/coffee shop, hardware store, Ken’s market (it’s like a tiny Walmart in the respect that it has a little bit of everything).

Shaver Lake Hardware

Most houses in Shaver are close enough to walk into town, and seeing how everyone in our clan loves to take walks, that was a plus!  We picked up a Christmas tree for our living room.  We didn’t have any ornaments, so one night we sat around and made decorations for the tree.  We cut up magazines and used random craft supplies I had stashed in my bag!

I have a lot of wonderful memories from that first Christmas at Shaver Lake.  Different families were assigned nights to cook; I remember cooking, but I don’t remember what I made.  I DO remember my uncle Casey making wontons though! There was a Christmas eve service in a tiny chapel.  And then there was the downstairs toilet that got stopped up.  Dad and Casey thought it was a wise idea to cut a long skinny branch off the tree and create a makeshift “snake” to unclog the toilet…Yeah, that didn’t work.  And seeing how there wasn’t a plumber available on Christmas, we all shared the upstairs bathroom. ( I think there were about 13 of us..?)  There was x-rated snowman building, x-rated aprons and lots of walks to Ken’s for more wine…

Apron in the snow


We all fell in love with the mountain town-so much so that my parents bought a cabin there.  The next Christmas we had a place of our own to go to.

Shaver Lake Cabin 2002

It was stocked with plenty of firewood and sleds left from the previous owners.  This is “Pinky,” our favorite sled:

just pimky


My sister catching air on the hill beside our house.


Matt snowboarding in my deceased grandmother’s jacket (it was the only one he had that was semi-water-proof!)

There were years with family and there were years when it was just the two of us.  We’d take the dog, go sledding, take walks, cook, read, play guitar and crochet by the fire.  We LOVED the fireplace.  Often we’d make a palette on the floor in front of the wood stove just because it was so cozy.

The cabin seems like eons ago.  We used it as often as we could, trying to get up there once in the summer and once in the winter each year.  Matt and I moved out of state and the cabin was used less and less …Eventually my parents sold it.

The thing that hasn’t changed is our love for a white Christmas.  Having grown up on the California coast, we were used to walks on the beach after a big Christmas dinner-not walks in the snow.  The cabin changed our hearts to favor the cold white drifts.  Now that we live in an area that DOES get snow, we always hope against hope that we have snow on the 25th of December.

Last year our Christmas gift to ourselves was a wood stove for our house.  This year our gift to ourselves was pulling our mattress into the living room in front of the fire.  Just like the cabin.


Do you like my old-school photos?  One of my favorite things to do in Shaver was to go on a walk and take photographs.  These photos were all taken on film (except for Pinky), so I have no digital files of them.  Ha!  They are photos of photos! (thanks to my iphone)

Here are some links to Shaver Lake Cabin rentals.


6 thoughts on “White Christmas

  1. I love this story, Amber. I remember Judi talking it while the plans were being made. Love you and miss you. Merry Christmas to you and Matt.

  2. Thank you for writing this. It brought back so many wonderful memories. We had a little treat this year with a horse drawn carriage ride up and down Symphony Oaks with friends and family. I display the family photo taken on the front porch at Shaver every Christmas by our guest book. Found your mom telling people about it when I came in for soup. Then we laughed until we cried telling family friends about the plunger and Mr. big Potty. Love you so

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