I used to have this goal for my life in which I would eventually get to a place where I loved school or my job so much that I didn’t desperately hope for a snow day during the long winter months. In the past, I would obsessively check the weather forecasts looking for signs of enough snow that school or work would be called off. I had difficulty sleeping the evening before a forecast indicating such a possibility. I would get up and look out the window throughout the night to check if the pace of accumulation was quick enough to cause administrators to foresee a “snowpocalypse,” make the right call, and cancel all school and work activities. My emotions felt as if they were at the mercy of the snow, which is indeed an unreasonable thing to allow oneself to be controlled by. Did I just hate school or work that much, or was there something less dramatic and more innocent going on?
Often, a snow day is a child’s dream come true. Depending on where you are in the world, it may be quite common, or it’s possible you’ve never even heard of a snow day if you live in a climate that is warm and mild. I grew up in Texas, where, unprepared for winter weather, school was called off for a bit of frost on the ground. When that happened, I’d spend my day in the front yard trying to scoop up ice particles from the driveway to make the world’s tiniest snowman (which was usually an epic fail). In much of the country, snow is commonplace during winter and schools build snow days into their calendars to account for bad weather or unsafe travel conditions.
I’m guessing I’m not alone here. Snow days are interruptions to our routines, which may be a rare occurrence for some. Although some may not appreciate the disruption, for many of us, the monotony of responsibilities, the “to-do” lists that never get done, the expectation that work comes first, and the pressure of being “on” at all times leaves us desperate for an unexpected reason to let it go. We go to work sick, or we stay up too late getting ahead on projects because our workloads exceed the 40 allotted hours. If we are sick and manage to stay home, we work from home because technology says we can.
Snow days provide a great opportunity for a break because we can’t control Mother Nature. It isn’t our failing immune system (somehow our fault) or the failing immune systems of our families. It isn’t our lack of being a “team player.” It isn’t a situation in which our colleagues question whether we drank too much last night and that’s the real reason we can’t come to work. We have something tangible that everyone can bear witness to. When a snow day is called, the city is frozen and we all know it. No one can reasonably leave home without significant risk, and it isn’t our fault.
We look forward to days like this because we need them. We need moments in which we aren’t in charge. We need moments where we can let go and allow something larger than ourselves to give us a break. As a population, we don’t do this enough. We work longer and longer hours, we multitask ourselves into the ground, we do chores on our days off, we engage in endless errands to help make our lives run more smoothly, and we make appointment after appointment after appointment.
We need moments where we can let go and allow something larger than ourselves to give us a break. As a population, we don’t do this enough. We work longer and longer hours, we multitask ourselves into the ground, we do chores on our days off, we engage in endless errands to help make our lives run more smoothly, and we make appointment after appointment after appointment.It can be difficult to take a break and do nothing, which is often forced when a snow day occurs. We may be sick from stress, but it doesn’t often make us quit doing. We may be exhausted and disconnected from those we love due to the demands of our busy schedules, but we may perceive that the world would fall apart if we don’t keep going. On the other hand, a snow day cannot be negotiated with. The blanket of white quiets the world and says, “Stop!” We can’t get out of the house to run errands, so we cook what we have in the cupboard, play board games if the cable goes out, and sleep when we’re tired. We are often forced to just relax.
If you’re like me, peeking out the window all night and imploring the sky to save you from your busy schedule tomorrow, maybe it isn’t so much that you’re being silly or that you hate your job or hate school or you can’t get a grip on your emotions. It could just be your body and mind telling you that you need a break. I don’t necessarily want to get to a place in my life where I don’t long for breaks in the form of an unexpected snow day. Days like that help us remain grounded, healthy, and sharp. We need days where we can relax, even if we’re forced, and allow the world to run without us. We need moments that allow us to reconnect with the feeling of quiet contentment and recognize that what we have around us in this moment is enough for this moment. It isn’t likely that everything will fall apart in our absence, but perhaps more likely that everything may fall back into place.
Let it snow.
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