Snowmen make people smile.  They remind people of all ages of their youth – happy simple times when you went outside to play in the snow and those magical times when you had enough to roll big balls into rounded shapes that imagination transformed into a neighborhood expression of fun with a big smile!

Kathy Wolf is a stage 4 ovarian cancer survivor.  Her diagnosis in September 2015 was a shock to her and her family and the initial outlook wasn’t very good. But Kathy is a fighter and over a year later she is still fighting, refusing to allow this insidious disease to take away her way of life.  That includes her love of snowmen.

Even last year, shortly after her initial chemo treatments, she was determined to continue her annual tradition of transforming her home into a snowman fantasy to be enjoyed by not only her family but friends and neighbors as well.  Happy faces adorn the home she shares with Bernie, her husband of 42 years.  Their two daughters, Lisa and Stacey, as well as grandsons Brandon and Adrian, helped more than usual the past two years but the final details always are the result of Kathy’s loving touch and attention to detail.  As in previous years the process starts with clearing all the shelves, table tops, mantles, book cases, ledges and any other flat surface of things you are used to seeing in a “normal” home all year long.  Then they arrive – storage tubs, boxes large and small, containers of all shapes and sizes from the attic storage areas.  Some are labeled, many are not, but for the next week or so the house is a forest of snowmen with little room to walk or move without stepping on or bumping into a smiling fluffy snowman.

Kathy spends hours with her collection of animated snowmen, the dozens that require fresh batteries each year to transform them in to the dancing, singing, hopping, and jumping snowmen that delight the kids – and the adults too, but they are a little more reserved often smiling as they see their own children enjoying the sights and sounds of their own youth.  These snowmen that respond to a press of a button or squeeze of a hand are placed on the purpose-built stands or other low levels so that kids can enjoy the sounds and movement that go along with all the smiles.

The displays extend to the rest of the house.  In the kitchen the counters are adorned with snowman cookie jars, paper towel holders, spoon racks, salt and pepper shakers, and cooking-related smiling faces everywhere.   Window ledges have smiles galore, small pillows on chairs and couches reflect the theme throughout this wonderland.  Even the bathroom is included – soap dispensers, pictures on the walls, and yes – snowman toilet paper!

Kathy has collected her snowmen over the years, ever since Bernie brought one home as his grab bag gift from a church choir Christmas party in Texas.  Because of his service in the military they have enjoyed many travel opportunities and she has memories associated with her snowmen from such places as Germany, Spain, Madeira, Cyprus, and of course her own native country England.   The family is especially proud of the fireplace mantle where snowman stocking holders support the handmade stockings Kathy has produced with love for each member of the family starting with her oldest daughter whose stocking is, well, 30+ years old.  Don’t worry Lisa – we won’t tell!

Kathy is fighting cancer and it has been more difficult to do all this the past two years but it is a visible expression of her strength and her determination not to let her illness totally change her life.  Yes, there are changes that come naturally with getting older or not being as healthy but Kathy’s smile is a reflection of all those snowmen and she is an inspiration to everyone around her all year long, and maybe a little more at Christmas.