Snow days are magical.
As a kid growing up in Chicago, I cherished snow days because they were so elusive. There was not lack of snow, but the city was well bolstered against most types of weather attacks. If a snowstorm hit, but the snow stopped falling by the wee hours of the morning, you’d be taking that history test at 8 a.m. But if by some miracle Mother Nature decided to let that precipitation build up on through morning rush hour in the city – an already treacherous commute – there was a better chance of school cancellations and sublime bliss.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t always understand snow days. When I was in second grade, Chicago was hit with an awful snowstorm that closed schools across the area – but not mine. My dad walked me to school that morning, as I was fully decked out in my snow pants and heavy boots. I arrived to a classroom of four other students, and I felt triumphant. My teacher heralded us as “the brave ones,” and since we had such a small group, we spent the day making paper snowflakes while Miss Crawford read to us. It was fantastic! Boy, I loved school. Wait until I tell all of my friends!
The next day when the 20 other children rejoined my class, I realized the error of my ways. My peers had not been home moping alone like I had thought; rather, their parents had allowed them to stay home, and they had gotten together for a snowball fight. I had missed the fun. And for what? Three measly paper snowflakes. I was mortified, heartbroken – and I resolved from then on to fully embrace the mythology of snow days.
Like any truly spellbinding, childhood phenomenon, snow days enjoy their fair share of lore. Wishing for them involves sleeping with your pajamas inside out and performing some variation of the Snow Day Dance. I grew up as an only child and so had to rely on the advice of friends at school who had siblings and knew which methods to get the best results. In light of my earlier snow day faux pas, I was fastidious in my attempts to make up for it. I would climb into bed in inside-out pajamas and lie awake envisioning what I would do in the event of a snow day. My snow day anticipation was rivaled only by my Christmas Eve jitters.
When I graduated from high school, I thought I had seen the end of my career as a snow day connoisseur. I was headed to the mid-Atlantic coast. Snow days were a foreign concept. When D.C. garnered a few inches in the winter of 2008 and classes were delayed until noon, I was giddy – but it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t until this past December when the real snow fell that I began to feel the old familiar snow day jitters. As I write this amid Snowpocalypse 2.0, campus is abuzz with excitement. I am 7 years old all over when I compare weather reports with my friends and call home to brag to my parents about how much snow we’ve gotten. (Chicago has been paling in comparison this winter.)
So what makes snow days so great? Of course, it is marvelous to receive the gift of a whole extra 24 hours of freedom. But I think the truly remarkable part is the eagerness, anticipation and the genuine yearning. It springs from a distinctly childlike fascination with the unknown. And during a time in our lives when we can feel a collective sense of cynicism and jadedness settling in, it is refreshing to have something so simple and so pure to cling to. And what is purer than freshly fallen snow?
A snow day is such a unifying force. Everyone loves snow days. When we were all struggling to get home during the snow in December, I found myself talking to just about everyone I ran into – including strangers – to share travel horror stories or finals woes. The snow had enveloped all of us and, despite our protests, it was so exhilarating to run through it on Healy Lawn, not knowing what the next day would bring.
Perhaps I put too much stock in snow days and their magic. But how else to explain the collective effervescence triggered by weather? Right now the snow frenzy is at fever pitch. And I, for one, will be sleeping with my pajamas inside out tonight.
Margaret Delaney is a sophomore in the College. I Know This Much Is True appears every other Tuesday.