Lalley: The unavoidable result of a big blizzard — forced family fun

The longest holiday break known to man ended with a necessary tromp through the snowbound neighborhood.

Lalley home in the snow
Sioux Falls Live Editor Patrick Lalley on a family snowshoe excursion during the recent winter storm.
Patrick Lalley / Sioux Falls Live

SIOUX FALLS — It was inevitable.

When the snowfall inched north of a foot and beyond this week, I knew it would come. Mom’s forced march of fun to fight back against Mother Nature’s confinement.

That’s a normal progression of events out here in Lalleyland. The Head of the Household starts to get itchy after too much time trapped indoors, especially when the other occupants have retreated — no matter how peacefully — to their respective happy places.

“It’s time for a family snowshoe outing,” was the clarion call from the kitchen-turned-temporary-storm-center-home-office.

In these situations it’s always best not to react too quickly. Let the message settle on the house for a moment to gauge the level of angst that is sure to follow.


“NO!” was the response from upstairs.

“IT’S COLD!” from the basement.


Living in a house with a 12- and 14-year-old human beings can be trying on its best days because … they’re 12 and 14.

These weren’t the best days.

I tried to remember how long it had been since the last day of school in 2022 in the Sioux Falls Public School District. The details were lost to the dim mists of history in my mind, the fog of holiday warfare.

I just knew it was a long time ago.

Tacking on two days of holiday vacation in the form of snow days this week was — and I think I speak for parents and legal guardians across the city — a particularly cruel twist of winter.


I’d take 20 below zero if the streets were open, I thought, briefly daydreaming of an approaching school bus.

From the safety of our home office, the space heater warming slippered feet and stacks of books lending a false sense of intellectual immunity, I heard steps.

Purposeful steps.

I leaned back in the desk chair and closed the glass-paned doors and briefly thought about putting in earbuds to at least look like I was “tied up with work.”

It was a lame smoke screen at best.

“Let’s snowshoe around the neighborhood.”

“Sounds like a great idea. You guys have fun.”

“You’re not working.”


“Yes I am.”

“That’s Facebook on your screen.”

“I’m managing the Sioux Falls Live social media strategy.”

“You don’t do that.”

This was not my hill to die on.

Not today.

That’s not to say that other occupants of the house shared that same reluctantly reasonable approach.

The 12- and 14-year-olds see every hill worth defending.


“I SAID NO!” from upstairs.

“IT’S COLD!” from down.


“You have two choices,” came the decree. “Either we go snowshoeing around the neighborhood in ten minutes or we turn off Wi-Fi and phones for the rest of the day.”

It was a short negotiation.

Twenty or 30 minutes later we were geared up and clomping around, chatting with the snowblower pushers.

It was … pleasant.

It almost always ends this way: The clarion call — gnashing of teeth — parental decree — negotiation — activity — smiles.


For a little while at least, we attacked the blizzard of the new year and the holiday break that wouldn’t end with some Griswold-esque family fun.

The 14-year-old split off fairly quickly.

The 12-year-old required extraction from several snowbanks.

And “someone” threw a shoe near the end.

That said, I took a moment Thursday morning after the Head of the Household was able to drive away to work and the occupants had been dropped at school for a two-hour late start.

Bright sunlight danced across the snowdrifts covering the dormant garden.

The stillness was palpable.

I closed my eyes and dreamt.


Of snowshoeing, fat bikes and cross-country skiing.

Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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