When I was a child, two words were synonymous with day-long tobogganing and spending time with my friends, all of us giddy and savouring the surprise of the unexpected: Snow Day. After the initial snowfall was over, the sun would break through the clouds, dancing and sparkling on the fresh blanket of white that covered everything, stretching as far as you could see and leaving a wonderland in its wake.
One by one, my friends would each come out of their houses, and we would take to Sacky’s Hill – the best sledding hill that has ever been. Long enough to give you good ride, tall enough to scare you just a little, and wide enough that you wouldn’t run into those making the long trek back up.
You see, we live where the daylight doesn’t last as long in the winter as it does in the summer. We could go sledding after school, but we would likely be doing it in the dark. And even then, we were only allowed to be in our front yard. That’s why we saved after school time for building forts.
But on Snow Days, oh my, we had the entire day to spend at Sacky’s.
One blessed day to break up the drudgery of spending the rest of the week behind a desk, one day to clear the dust out of our heads, one day to climb that hill time after time after time and enjoy the momentary rush of the slide down in between climbs, one day to lay in the snow soaking up the sun’s rays while marvelling at the quiet around us, one day to be completely free.
Because all too soon we would be waking up to another day at school, another day of dented forefingers from holding our pencils just right, another day of desks that smelled like ham sandwiches, and another day of physical education that consisted of breathing recycled air in a musty gymnatorium.
That is why I embrace Snow Days for my children: to allow them to learn the freedom of childhood, the rush of adventure, the camaraderie of others, and the cold spray of snow on their necks.
They may be missing a day of school, but they’re certainly not missing a day of education.
(Lest everyone think I write about snow days far too often, this was written as an article requested by The New York Times. Yes, they actually asked me to write about snow days for them :-). But alas, they decided not to run it after all. Perhaps they don’t like snow days quite as much as I do …?)