It is the time of year when the radio is playing songs that plead for snow. And what comes with snow? Sledding, of course! Before you go pull out ol' Rosebud, it may be prudent to review the pros and cons of this traditional winter activity. Literature and pop culture are full of sleds that have carried their riders to high highs and crashing lows.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
While sleds might be all fun and games for humans, it is definitely not a good time for a dog. Buck, the dog protagonist of the novel, is trained to pull sleds, which leads to a life of hunger and hard labor. Although Buck does eventually lose his beloved owner, Thorton, to death, he is finally freed from his sled and can wander freely in the wild. After reading this book, we threw our sled in storage and decided on curling up on the couch and watching A Very Murray Christmas. Why risk starvation when you can watch George Clooney?
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
This is a classic case of sleds gone bad. The sled initially promises to be a nice diversion; Ethan and Mattie think the sled will be a nice way to procrastinate from going to the train station (a place where they will say goodbye forever). Things get really dark quickly when Mattie recommends they sled into a tree as a way of killing themselves. The suicide attempt is unsuccessful, and both are permanently injured. As a result, they are forced to spend their lives under the care of Ethan’s horrible wife, Zeena. We are sure the moral of the story is supposed to be about staying faithful to your spouse, but our major takeaway is to watch out for trees when we go sledding (if we ever take our sled out of storage).
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
A common piece of parenting advice is to talk about tough topics with your children in the car so you don’t have to look at each other. While a stuffed tiger is hardly a parent, Hobbes must have taken that advice to heart when it comes to talking to his unruly pal, Calvin. However, he certainly did make it his own. Since tigers don’t get driver’s licenses (they are smart enough to know to avoid the DMV), Hobbes elects to talk to Calvin on a sled in lieu of a car. Instead of topics like drugs, the two discuss deep, philosophical issues like the meaning of life and death. After all, there is no better time to discuss the afterlife than when you are barreling downhill.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Sledding is literally a happy memory in the book. One of the first memories that Jonas experiences from the Giver is the exhilarating moment of sledding downhill. When Jonas finally escapes his dystopian community, he encounters a sled on his last leg of his journey. He sleds downhill toward a home that is decorated for Christmas—the ultimate happy experience. Not only does this sled save him from a life in black and white, but it delivers him to a Technicolor world with Billy Murray Christmas specials.
So is it safe to pull out your old sled this season? If you are a dog, you should definitely avoid it. If you are a tiger, you are in the clear. If you are a human (which we presume you are since you are reading this article), it could go either way. We do think there is nothing better than houses playing Christmas music (and might have delicious cookies inside), so we will take our sled out of storage and take our chances.