Beginning Dec. 23 and ending Jan. 3, parents of the area's school-age children will be blessed with Winter Break — that cherished and treasured 12-day period when we can strengthen our family bonds through precious, precious togetherness.
What moments of wonderment we will experience, spending long stretches with our loving and adorable offspring!
What a time of family fellowship!
This feeling lasts until about Day Four, when Christmas is over and the kids are complaining about being bored and driving Lindy and me crazy.
Our family does use this time to bond- — we go sledding at Schmidt Park, we see a Christmas Day movie, we ski at Welch, we spend one night in a Red Wing hotel that has an indoor/outdoor pool where you can swim outside in winter.
But when it comes to spending time together as a family, Lindy and I agree that it's ever so important to create for our offspring those lasting memories that come with making our kids do things that they would never, ever choose to do on their own.
So here are two family Winter Break activities that will not only give your kids an educational lesson, but will also bore and annoy them just enough so they won't complain the rest of the break, for fear you'll find something else like this for them to do.
(If you do need more ideas, there are these and 98 more in the December issue of Rochester Magazine, which includes our "100 Days Of Winter; 100 Can't-Miss Events.")
Visit the giant Boston fern at St. Marys Hospital.
No kid wants to visit a hospital. And no kid wants to see a giant fern. Which makes this a perfectly annoying trip in order to punish the kids as soon as they mention being bored. Nothing gives Lindy and me more pleasure than excitedly announcing "You're bored? Why then let's all go to the hospital! To see a fern!"
Where you go: Go to the Francis Building tower lobby at Saint Marys Hospital. Turn right at the information desk. Go straight ahead.
What to say to impress the kids: "This Boston fern was given to Saint Marys Hospital in 1980 by Gladys Fiksdal. Originally very small and sparse, the fern was going to be disposed of by Fiksdal Florists. Gladys Fiksdal took it to her home and nurtured it with Knox Gelatin for three years until it outgrew its setting in their home and was placed in its present location in the hospital."
And here's a bonus phrase in order to drive home the message: "Wow. Did you hear the thing I said about nurturing it with Knox Gelatin?"
Take a directionless car ride to point out historical buildings.
Our kids have little or no interest in architecture, so as soon as they mention being bored we like to load them into the van to drive around town pointing out the homes and buildings of Harold Crawford, a Rochester architect who designed various structures in the 1920s and 30s.
Where to go: We like to drive by various Crawford-designed buildings, including numerous homes in Pill Hill, and businesses like the old Rochester Chick Hatchery (built in 1916 and now housing a series of businesses at 1001 First Ave. SE), Folwell Elementary School (built in 1930, 603 15th Ave SW), and the the former Rochester Bread Company (built in 1928 and now known as Civic Drive Plaza, 300 11th Ave. NW).
What to say to impress the kids: "Crawford's home interiors are often Craftsman style, and he incorporated a lot of bathrooms and closets. His exteriors are from the Eclectic School. Sure, they may look like Tudors from the outside, but if you look close you'll see many Art Deco influences as well!"
And also say this, when you drive by 300 11th Ave. NW: "Look up there at the third floor of the old Rochester Bread Company, you'll notice that Crawford designed the roofline to look like loaves of bread!"
If you do these two things the first two times your kids complain about being bored over Winter Break, we guarantee they will think long and hard before complaining about boredom the rest of the break, or maybe ever.