A little over a month ago, it snowed. It snowed enough for me to stay home from work. I work well before any reasonable waking time so I usually plan ahead and as I called in to work that night, I got several emails and messages from my daughters’ schools, the mayor and their teachers that the school building would be closed, but there would in fact be school. It just so happened, that it was finally my daughter’s day to attend. She had been remote learning about 4 days a week and looked forward to the one day of attending actual school and sadly, just had the last two of her days cancelled. She missed her friends, her teachers, leaving the house, any sense of normalcy, essentially everything she had been missing for the past 9 months and then something amazing happened, a nice beautiful snowstorm disturbed what had become the new mundane daily routine, and they were stealing it right out from under her.
Not only do I look back on the mornings I sat in the back room of my childhood home, looking out of the windows that completely covered the three walls, with the perfect view of the snow falling, as I waited, hopefully, to see my school’s name scroll across the bottom of the TV screen, indicating it was closed, with a buzzing sense of nostalgia but I still cherish these days. I don’t need to rip out old photo books to remember the major snow storms from my past nor do I catalog them by year, but rather I recall them as specific memories. There was the one where we built the fort for Eilene that she could almost stand in, the one where we hiked all the way to the best spot nearby for sledding and Eilene busted her lip and the very first go and it was over, Annie’s first big snow where we turned my sisters front yard into a series of hills to ride, and even after childhood and before having children, we would pile into my sisters station wagon, hot chocolate in toe and stay until the snow seeped through our pants and we could feel the frost-bitten parts covering our bodies. We remember the day someone was sledding on the hood of a car that had been dumped, and even just a hefty garbage bag. I guess they do get the job done.
Now compare this to the incidents in school I remember as vividly. I loved school. I loved school so much I had perfect attendance most years, yet I do not recall any of these scattered memories with as much detail and fondness as those above. I do not get transformed into a child for just a second and experience the same physical sensations stemming from pure joy I once could, before adulthood set in and that type of unfiltered presence that allows you to feel things on a different level became few and far between. In my life, rarely have I regretted choosing exciting experiences over the mundane, so that’s what we did. We had a family snow day. After being locked in the house for months, there was no way we were adding even one more day, while we watched the fluffy, soft components of snowballs and the perfect turf for sledding fall atop the trees, the grass, and all the eye could see.
That night we bundled up, and took a nice, leisurely stroll through the falling flakes, stopping to see our foot prints, often the only ones, to make snow angels and check out the Christmas lights we’ve seen so many nights, for the first time covered, some with just a light frost and others almost completely. We came home and warmed up to a Christmas movie and drank hot Cocoa. And early in the morning, we headed right back out. I had already been out shoveling the night before and my father, who lives next door had already passed with the snowblower, yet there was still enough material to make our own mini hill on the front lawn. For a few hours we sat out there, me throwing snow in a pile, Annie packing it down, eventually, with a sled.
When my oldest decided to mosey on out, she couldn’t help but to take a few spins before, sleds in hand, we walked to a local park with hills, dragging Annie on her sled, and throwing snowballs on the way. We found a great hill, under a highway pass, that still managed to be heavily covered with snow and spent another hour running up and down, laughing and joking the whole time. Then, we laid in the snow and just relaxed, forgetting about the world for a while. Forgetting about 2020 for a while. Just being.
In a world where just existing has become a stressful task, it was nice to stop and enjoy it without the added weight of 2020 drama. Most people look forward to what the new year will bring us and refuse to look back on 2020, but sadly, 2021 is not looking so different. But the other day, when someone was complaining they just wanted to wipe 2020 out, I had to disagree, because even in hard times, there will be the days that make it all worth it. I’m glad I let my kids cut school that day. I’m not saying to throw responsibility out the window, but sometimes you need to teach your kids, and yourself, that it is okay to need an escape once in a while, and it’s probably a better idea to take it before you have to, because our bodies have a way of forcing us to stop every once in a while, being a cold, a stomach ache, a headache and other ailments facilitated by stress, when we neglect to do it ourselves. I guess I can say that my family took an emotional health day that was long overdue, and I hope you remember, sometimes you and yours, may need one too.