Remember when a big snowstorm was fun and exciting?
The snow was light and fluffy. The lawn would look like an unblemished layer of pure white frosting. The trees would have a calming stillness. But mainly it was the possibility of school being cancelled that gave snow that magical quality.
It would begin the afternoon before. A rumor would begin to spread about the school. “Psst. There’s going to be a big snowstorm, and Lisa smells. Pass it on.” It did not matter if it was 70 degrees and sunny; the moment someone said “snow” the air in the hallways and classrooms would get that pre-holiday feeling. Before a single snowflake had fallen it felt like school had been canceled.
Not once did it occur to us that missing a day of school might cost us useful knowledge. At that time, there was no useful knowledge. And it did not even have to be a school day for the magic to work. Even if it snowed on a Saturday, I would leap out of bed and look out the window and see the piles of pure white snow and say to myself, “How beautiful. I wonder if school will be canceled on Monday.”
The best was watching the list of closed schools scrolls across the bottom of the television screen. It was like waiting for the winning lottery numbers. One of the first schools to be closed in my area was the Cleary School for the Deaf, and I would think about how lucky those kids were to have school canceled.
My school was stingy for some reason. It always kept us waiting to the bitter end of the list. With envy I would watch the other names reel by like other people’s luggage at the baggage claim, imagining the students that attended those schools jumping for joy in their homes, a whole day off from school, a gift from heaven. And then I think about how I too could be one of those happy students, doing cartwheels in his pajamas, were it not for the lousy administrators in my school, the heartless scoundrels who wanted to rob me of a snow day, the cruel, fun-hating, sadistic…
…And then it would happen. The name of my school would scroll across the bottom of the screen, and I would know in my heart that my prayers had been answered.
Now, years later, that school long behind me, I perceive snow a little differently. When I hear that there is going to be snow, I don’t watch the bottom of the television screen or do cartwheels or even bother praying. Because all I think about is how miserable I’m going to be shoveling the driveway, and how I’m going to be risking my life on treacherous roads just to earn my daily bread.
But when I see the blanket of white pureness on the lawn, and the white mounds hanging off the trees, I still feel a little bit of the old magic, a little bit of wonder, a little bit of my childhood, and it gives me comfort. That, and the fact that there will be no school buses or teachers on the road.