Sugarbush view

In my family, Thanksgiving means one thing: A chance to gather with people we love in Vermont’s Mad River Valley. We have a very traditional New England Thanksgiving with virtually no variations to the menu allowed: From the Anadama bread stuffing to the creamed onions to the casserole we call “corn junk” everyone knows just what to expect – and we like it that way.

Of course, food isn’t the only tradition we observe. For the last two years my family has been lucky enough to add a day of skiing at Sugarbush Resort to our agenda of beloved activities. Even central and northern Vermont don’t get natural snow consistently in November but it is usually cold enough for resorts to make snow, which Sugarbush had been doing for days ahead of our visit.

Sugarbush family
Eager to start our first run of the season.

We arrived on Sunday morning in time to get on the Super Bravo chairlift just as it started running. My husband Matt and I were eager to try out our new gear – we both bought ski boots earlier in the month and Matt was trying his brand new Rossignol Pursuit 12 TI skis for the first time.

New Rossignols
Requisite new skis selfie

Even though it had warmed up earlier in the week, Sugarbush did a great job of husbanding their resources. There were basically two runs open from the top of Super Bravo – a smooth groomer and a really nice bump run with a surprisingly good surface.

Unfortunately for us, the wind picked up that day, which means some of the snow-covered terrain wasn’t accessible due to a wind hold on the Heaven’s Gate chair. But we still had a really great time.

The views were beautiful.

Sugarbush skiing
Enjoying a bump run

We took eight runs and called it a day – which turned out to be just the perfect amount of time to move those muscles in our thighs that seem only to be used while skiing no matter how many boot camp videos or wall sits one does. And after showers, we headed over to the cozy tavern at local favorite the Hyde Away to enjoy a little football (don’t tell anyone that we weren’t rooting for the Patriots) and pot roast poutine.

Prime Rib Poutine
Pot roast poutine at The Hyde Away may not look pretty – but it tastes amazing

This led me to think (once again) that Vermont ski vacations really are the best family vacations  no matter what the conditions or the weather. There are always so many fun things to do. In fact, we had been enjoying ourselves for days before we went skiing. Besides hanging out with family and playing word games we enjoyed local beers, delicious popcorn, and The Penguins of Madagascar at The Big Picture. We got some holiday shopping done at All Things Bright and Beautiful (one of the best stuffed animal stores anywhere). And we went for several long walks along dirt roads, enjoying snow covered vistas.

Winter walk Vermont
Walking under the pines

My kids never once said they were bored – and they can’t wait to go back at Christmas. I’m pretty sure they are going to spend every day in December doing a snow dance.

And just in case the dance doesn’t work, what are some other non-skiing holiday pleasures you might enjoy in Vermont during December?

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