This past week, much of the East Coast got a early Christmas gift: a Snow Day. I had never heard of Snow Days before we moved to New England in the winter of 1996, but I soon began to look forward to them. First, the media was full of news of the approaching Nor’Easter. In the middle of the night, the silence the snowfall brought would be shattered by the sounds of snowplows clearing our road–often to no avail.
By 6:00 a.m the local TV stations would run crawlers across the bottom of the screens, listing the school districts and businesses that would be closed for the day. I would get up and tell our two sleeping little boys that they could sleep in because it was a Snow Day. They would whoop and then go back to sleep but it wasn’t long before they were outside, having snowball fights and sliding around with the other kids on our street.
I was working on a novel during those years and was glad for an excuse to take a day off. No one expected me to do anything except to make hot cocoa. In the afternoon, we would find a video the boys liked and often could repeat verbatim, and the three of us would watch it together. It was a beautiful reprieve from daily life.
This week, a note to parents from a Superintendent of Schools in West Virginia brought me to tears. While it is true that almost anything can bring me to tears these days, the letter that Bondy Shay Gibson wrote to the families in the Jefferson County Schools was widely publicized, as it should have been. This is what she wrote:
For generations, families have greeted the first snow day of the year with joy. It is a time of renewed wonder at all the beautiful things that each season holds, a reminder of how fleeting a childhood can be, an opportunity to make some memories with your family that you old on to for life. For all of these reasons and many more, Jefferson County Schools will be completely closed for the first snow day of the year….We will return to the serious and urgent business of growing up tomorrow. But for today, go build a snowman.
It’s impossible to build a snowman in Oakland, California, where we now live, but in these times we can give ourselves a break and pretend. Tomorrow I plan to give myself a Snow Day. Wherever you are, I hope one day soon you can, too.