Photo by LUGO/iStockphoto.com
Recently, the night before a forecasted snowstorm, I found myself wishing for a snow day. I sat in bed refreshing the weather app repeatedly, consumed with excitement as it reloaded. I felt like a child again as I wished for the projected snowfall total to increase. And now I'm convinced the magic of a snow day outlasts childhood—I feel it at forty years old as strong as I did when I was little.
Some of my earliest memories are of my father pulling me in a sled across the snow-filled yard. As I grew bigger, playing in the snow was wonderful, but a school closure from a snowstorm was the best feeling in the world.
In the winter of 1996, a severe nor'easter paralyzed the east coast of the United States with up to 4 feet of snow over three days. I was in seventh grade that year when the blizzard dropped 30 inches of snow in the Philadelphia region where I lived. Another storm a few days later brought more.
One after the other, snow days piled up, and so did mugs of hot chocolate. A snow fort in my front yard became my second home, and no matter how thoroughly I describe this epic storm today, my children can't fully understand. They're waiting for their turn, and I hope they get it.
This year, after two winter seasons without snow, I was back in my seventh-grade mindset, eager for snow to fall again. I told my nine-year-old that if we did a snow dance, the likelihood of a day off from school increased, so we giggled as we spun around three times in both directions. That evening, I fell asleep with the song No School Tomorrow playing in my head repeatedly, just as I had countless times during childhood.
A snow day means my nine- and twelve-year-old sons will be home for the day bickering, asking for snacks repeatedly, and depleting my energy from every direction. It means the quiet house I've come to cherish during school days will be loud, stressful, and inconducive to working consistently. It means having to clear the snow, the threat of a power outage, and the worry of my husband making it to work safely.
I'm a forty-year-old mother with many reasons to dread a snow day, yet there I was, wishing for enough snowfall to close the school. I wanted to wake up to a winter wonderland, even if it meant I'd be exhausted by noon.
That evening, I recalled sledding down the hill at the golf course near my childhood home. I remembered making snow angels and gliding through the frigid air on a snow-covered swing in my yard. My mind wandered back to when I spent time outdoors in full snow gear until my fingers and toes went numb. And I couldn't help but smile.
I reminisced about the joy of receiving the early morning phone call. We'd wait eagerly in the 1980s and 1990s as the phone chain unraveled. Glued to the television screen, we'd watch for our school's number to appear. One by one, memories flooded my mind as I remembered the most wonderful days of my childhood—snow days.
The morning after my son and I partook in the snow dance, we woke to a white lawn and snowflakes falling from the sky. In a time when virtual learning has eaten away at the magic of a vintage snow day, a school closure without having to log in is hard to come by. A text confirmed that school was indeed closed, and our wish had come true. And for a moment, I felt like a child again, along with my boys.
That day, I was a cook, preparing meals and snacks perpetually. I played mediator for my children as they pushed one another's buttons like only brothers know-how. I cleaned the kitchen more times than I could count, and my patience was pushed to its very last strand as I yearned for a moment of peace.
But then my children put on their snow pants. They pulled on their boots, hats, and gloves and played in the yard. They sled down our hill and threw snowballs for the first time in years, and as I sat in the warm kitchen watching my children live the days I miss most from my childhood, I felt the magic of a snow day span across generations, through decades, and land in my forty-year-old lap. And I savored it as long as I could.
Because the magic of a snow day is still the most special feeling in the world.
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