Why is it so hard for us – for adults – to enjoy snow days? I sit here looking out the window at this almost indescribably beautiful world, a world of blanketed hills and flocked evergreens and wood smoke rising from chimneys of cedar-sided cabins. I see the snow falling in thick, huge flakes and the occasional gust of wind causing a bough to all of a sudden let fall its burden, springing back up in bright green contrast to the unflinching whiteness all around it.
And all I can think about is, when is the plow going to come by? Will it be early enough for there to be any point in my going to work? How big a berm am I going to have to shovel to get my car out once the plow does come? And if I do go to work, is it going to keep snowing so that when I get back home there’s going to another berm that I’ll have to shovel to get back into the driveway? If I can’t get to work, how am I going to get everything done that I had on my plate to do today? It’s already a short week with the President’s Day holiday. I really cannot afford another day off this week.
Fret fret fret.
I remember the magic of snow days as a kid growing up in Ohio. Mom would call us to get up four or five times before we’d drag ourselves out of bed. We’d watch hopefully out the window, eating the breakfast Mom had made one slow bite at a time, putting off the moment we’d have to go upstairs and get dressed for school as long as possible. We would stare at the radio on the counter as if willing the announcer say the words, “All schools in the Dayton Unified School District will be closed today …”
Once those magic words floated through the air, the rest of our breakfast disappeared into our mouths and we were up, dressed in our snow clothes, and out the door before Mom could say, “Don’t forget your mittens.” And all the other kids on the street would be pouring out of their houses at the same time. There were sleds to be raced and snowmen to be built and, of course, snow angels to be made.
It never occurred to me, then, that Mom was back in the house cleaning up the breakfast dishes and changing out of her office attire and calling her boss to explain that she couldn’t come in today and wondering how she was going to get all of today’s work done tomorrow, on top of all of tomorrow’s work. It never occurred to me that she was thinking she really could not afford to take a day off that week. It never occurred to me that my magical snow day was causing her to fret.
When my kids were little and they’d have snow days, we could usually count on whatever before- and after-school daycare arrangements we had in place for that particular school year to take care of them. On the rare occasion that didn’t work, I’d take a vacation day, and we’d go sledding, and build snowmen, and, of course, make snow angels. And it was fun.
So what happened? I wonder, as I sit here looking at the world of whiteness. When did snow days go from being these priceless little treasures, these wonderful gifts plopped down in the middle of our humdrum, tedious weeks to being that irritating thing that bollixes up all our carefully laid out tasks and chores and plans? When did snow become my enemy instead of my best friend?
When did I stop making snow angels?
Maybe it was the time I neglected to clean the snow off the roof of my car and it came sliding down my windshield when I hit my brakes, shearing off the driver’s side windshield wiper and leaving a pile of snow so high I couldn’t see out and almost drove off the road. Or maybe it was when I went from imagining what kind of snowman I was going to make to listening for the plow so I could rush out – even if it meant getting out of bed and getting dressed at 11:00 at night or 5:00 in the morning – and be shoveling when he went by so that just maybe he would be merciful and turn his blade just a little bit and not leave that three foot berm behind my car.
The schools are closed today because of the snow, and from the Facebook posts of my friends some parents are enjoying the gift of this snow day and others are fretting over what’s not getting done. Today my kids are grown and gone, and I’m at home on a snow day. What am I going to do with it?
I’m going to clean the snow off my car. I’m going to shovel the stairs, and the walkway, and dig my car out. I’m going to try to be out there when the plow comes by so maybe he’ll take mercy on me and not leave too big a berm. I’m going to be a responsible adult and make sure I can get out and get to work tomorrow so I can get today’s work and tomorrow’s work done.