Wu, short for Wuzhou, and his parents moved to Norway from China when he was only six years old. His parents named him “Five Continents” because they wanted him to travel the world. They envisioned him to be an explorer, a conqueror, and a citizen of the world.
Even though Wu’s father's name was Aiguo, he did not consider himself patriotic. He felt no affinity towards China and swore to move anywhere in the world just to provide the best future for his family. That’s why, when the opportunity arose, Ai packed up his family into three small suitcases and moved onto a different continent. He might have left friends and a few worldly possessions behind, but he was never the person to look back. It was his family’s future that was at stake. After all, his son and his wife meant everything to him.
Lan has always been like an orchid – delicate and beautiful. Even though her family wasn’t convinced that Aiguo was the best match for her initially, they came around once Wuzhou entered the world. It was then that they saw how driven their son-in-law was to better his family’s lives. Lan was just happy to walk through life with her best friend.
The Suns moved to Oslo, Norway, from Lingshui, China, in search of a more prosperous future. Lan’s uncle was a traveling professor, and he helped Ai get a job at one of the universities in Oslo. Since Wu was still relatively young, Lan agreed to stay at home and manage house tasks.
Only a couple of weeks after the move, Wu was playing with his toy trucks when he caught a glimpse of something unusual happening outside. It almost seemed like it was raining. But the rain did not look anything like what Wu had come to expect. He left his toys on the floor, stood up, and walked to his bedroom window. White flakes were falling from the sky and slowly covering the ground. Unable to explain that weird phenomenon to himself, he ran into the living room where his parents were watching TV. He wanted to make sure that the white flakes weren't only isolated to outside of his bedroom window. Wu walked up to the vast window by the TV and glued his nose to the glass.
“You like the snow?” – Ai asked his son, getting up from the couch and walking towards the window.
“Snow?” – Wu asked, puzzled, trying to dig through his memory to see if he could find a reference.
“What’s that?” – he asked after a moment of silence, unable to recall in what sense he heard the word snow used before.
“Those are ice crystals” – his father explained.
Wu nodded in acknowledgment but was still nowhere near knowing what snow really was. He had a hard time figuring out why it was the first time in his life that he saw this magical snow and why his parents weren’t obsessed with it as he was.
“Snow occurs only during wintertime. In China, we lived in a climate zone without winters like this” – Ai explained, realizing that none of his words meant too much sense to his little boy.
“How about we go outside and have some fun in a little while? Maybe after lunch?” – Lan suggested.
Wu’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.
“That’s a great idea. Let’s wait for it to snow a little bit more so we can go out and build a snowman!” – Ai said excitedly.
Even though Wu did not know what a snowman really was, and he definitely did not know how to build one, he could not wait to go outside and touch the snow. The snowflakes seemed tiny, yet the outside world was quickly disappearing under a blanket of the white dust. Wu agreed to go back to his room to play until lunch while his parents went back to watching TV, but the toys didn’t hold his interest. Instead, he sat by the window, imagining what he would do once he went outside. Lunch could not come soon enough.
“Lunch’s ready!” – Lan announced at precisely 1 pm.
Usually, Wu would take his sweet time finishing up playing with his toys, but this time he was in the kitchen before Lan even managed to plate the oven pancake with lingonberry jam.
“We do not start eating until everyone’s at the table, Wuzhou” – his mother scolded him and pulled the fork out of his hand.
“Pancakes and jam are his favorite lunch” – Aiguo announced, entering the kitchen.
“I don’t think it’s that” – his wife replied, slightly pointing her head in the direction of the kitchen window.
“Ah” – Ai acknowledged the obvious.
He and his wife promised Wu to go outside and play in the snow after lunch. Their son was doing everything in his power to speed up the process and to be able to run out.
“Alright. Let’s eat” – the father announced.
Wu roughly cut his pancake and tried to fit multiple pieces into his mouth at a time.
“Slow down. You’ll choke” – the mother said, concerned.
She looked at her husband, and they both smiled. Wu’s excitement was infectious. Even though they themselves have seen snow in the past, they could not help but think back to their first snow encounter. Once lunch was finished, the Suns placed the dirty dishes in the sink and got ready to leave the house.
The little boy was ready to go as he was, but his parents made sure he put on his brand-new snow pants, a jacket, a scarf, gloves, a hat, and snow boots.
“Do I have to?” – Wu asked his mother as she handed him each item.
To him, all this was doing was delaying his fun in the snow. Although he had no idea what he would do yet, he knew it was going to be entertaining.
“Yes, you absolutely have to” – Lan replied and zipped up her son’s jacket.
When Ai opened the door, Wu rushed forward but stopped before crossing the threshold between the house and the outside. He looked down at the fresh layer of snow covering the cement steps.
“Go. Go ahead” – Lan said encouragingly.
Wu extended his leg forward and brought it almost to the ground but then paused, afraid of what the snow might do to the sole of his boot.
“It’s OK” – Ai chimed in.
Not wanting to appear scared, Wu placed his right foot on the snow. Nothing happened. Encouraged by that, he set his left foot firmly next to his right. Then, he made a few more steps forward and turned around. His bootprints appeared before him, and he nearly cried. He disrupted the uniform layer of snow that was covering the steps. To him, it felt like he just did the worst thing possible. To his shock, his parents came outside and paid no attention to the bootprints they left all over the place. Wu watched cautiously, but his mom and dad acted as if nothing happened.
“Stick your tongue out like this” – Ai asked his son.
“Is snow food? If so, why did we have lunch?” – Wu wondered to himself but stuck out his tongue as instructed.
He could feel the drops of cold on his tongue, but he could not taste anything.
“Definitely not food” – he thought to himself.
“Open your palm up and let a snowflake land on your glove” – his mom recommended.
He complied and fixed his eyes on his navy blue glove.
“I got one. No, I got two, three!” – Wu wanted to shout.
“Notice how they are differently shaped?” – his mother asked, pointing to individual snowflakes on his glove.
Wu, usually very talkative only nodded. A million thoughts swirled in his mind. He was not sure what to do with all this new information.
“Let’s each create a large snowball, and then we will assemble a snowman” – Aiguo proposed a plan.
At first, Wu wasn’t sure what a snowball was but quickly figured it out by observing his parents, who were rolling balls of snow.
Once all three balls were of similar size, Ai stacked them up one on top of the other. Lan then pulled out a carrot and a couple of pieces of coal out of her pocket and placed them on the snowman. Ai gave the snowman his magician hat from Halloween, and his wife inserted a broom into the snowman to serve as an arm.
A smile crept onto Wu’s face. The snowman was made of snow, yet he had eyes, a nose, mouth, a coat, a hat, and an arm, just like people do.
“Let’s make snow angels now” – his mother interrupted his thinking.
A part of him was curious to see how they were going to make an angel out of snow, but a part of him felt board. One snow creation was enough for him. His jaw almost dropped to the ground when he witnessed his parents bought laying down on the ground. They never let him do that!
“Come, lay on your back, and move your arms and legs like us” – his father said.
Wu was not sure if this was a test or not, but he decided to obey.
“Now, stand up” – his mom said, extending her arms towards him.
Wu stood up and, prompted by his mother, looked at the ground where he had just laid.
“A snow angel!” – he exclaimed, seeing his creation.
His parents laughed in unison.
“We’ll go out sledding tomorrow, but I think this is enough for today” – Lan announced, rubbing her hands against one another.
As the Suns approached the door, Wu noticed that their previously left bootprints were almost entirely gone. The steps looked immaculate again, and he could not be happier. He now knew that he could never destroy something as magnificent as snow.