Every kid knows the feeling. You wake up, look out your window, and hope. Then your mom walks in and says those four magic words, “There’s no school today.” So you fall back asleep.
For anyone who grew up in Florida or LA, this feeling is a stranger to you. To those of us who grew up in the frigid North, the Snow Day moment suffused us with a sense of personal blessing and awesomeness—such feelings got amplified by little kid ego. Like this blizzard existed just for us! Like the snow yetis had answered our prayers and covered the streets in ice on our behalf. Or just to spite Mrs. Kincaid, who now had to push that math test back one day! We were naïve enough to think our teachers hated Snow Days, if only because we loved them. This made us feel victorious.
On Snow Days, I had time for 2 cups of marshmallow hot cocoa. I had time to read every comic strip in The D&C, even Family Circle and Marmaduke, which I generally avoided because of how much they sucked. After slugging down the dregs of the hot cocoa—which were basically just liquefied chocolate—I’d relax on the plumpy couch, with a blanket wrapped around me like a cape. I’d click around the TV to see if I could catch the last 10 minutes of Beast Wars. It was like finally, at age 8, I’d been able to retire.
Eventually, my twin sister and I would decide on how to spend the Snow Day. We’d call around till we found a friend whose parents weren’t home. Then we bundled up into little winter warriors. We had our hats, mittens, snow pants, water-proof boots, and double layer of socks—gear that was as much of a hassle to put on as it was to take off. Plus, we had the scarves Baba knitted us. We were ready. We trooped through the snow. The end of Jeff and Jordan’s driveway was a dumping ground for the plows. Here, we could build the grandest forts or play Snow King of the Mountain until our fingers and noses were painfully numb.
Snow Days taught me about the danger of too much hope. If you hoped too much that would jinx it. “Don’t jinx it!” was a common saying between my twin sister, Jeff and Jordan, and me. Only when we least expected it, when we hadn’t mentioned it and weren’t even mentally ready, would a Snow Day strike. That made it all the more magical.
Snow Days also taught me to never trust the weather forecasters. I learned quickly that they were liars, dopes, and fear-mongers, Kevin Williams especially. If you listened to the nightly news in Rochester, you’d think every day was going to be a Snow Day. Kevin Williams promised us a blizzard, monsoon, or perfect mix of lake-effect meets cold-front avalanche every other day. I learned how to deal with this from my dad, who frequently rolled his eyes during the nightly news. I picked up his skepticism toward the media. It’s a skepticism that’s served me well.
Looking back, I realize my one great mistake about Snow Days. It’s a mistake any kid could make. But now, thanks to time and my current place of employment, Boston Public Schools, I’ve realized that teachers love Snow Days just as much as kids do. Maybe even more so. While kids get to build snow forts, play Xbox, and drink an endless amount of marshmallow hot cocoa, teachers get to go out for brunch, browse the shelves of the local bookstore, and then stroll along the slick sidewalks and maybe meet a teacher-friend for happy hour. As an adult, Snow Days no longer have the potent magic they once did. Still, they’re pretty awesome.
A lot of inconveniences tag-along with winter. In my hometown, for instance, the sun turns into a bear and goes into hibernation from October to April. A battleship gray sky hangs over our lives for six solid months. The road salt gets tracked indoors and always sticks to our socks. There’s on average of almost 8 feet of snowfall per year, enough to bury most non-native Rochesterians alive. But in exchange for these inconveniences, we get a gift the kids in Florida and LA are never given. We get the undeniable and magnificently glorious gift that is the Snow Day.