I spent some of today thinking back to my childhood in upstate New York. Remembering the random winter gift that was an official “snow day”. Maybe my age has corrupted my thinking, but it seems to me, that kids today don’t fully appreciate the significance of everything a good nor’easter has to offer.
An entire day void the shackles of academia. The tyranny of tenured teachers staved off until another time. Not only the ability to decide what you will do with your day, but also thanks to Mother Nature a blanket of activities has literally fallen from the sky. Along with it, countless ways to entertain and delight even the biggest winter grumbler. Grab a shovel and you could line your pockets with some unexpected cash too.
That was a different time. We had to wait for what seemed like forever as we listened to an actual radio to find out if the day was ours. Sometimes listening to the entire list only to find our school hadn’t been added yet. The name of the town I grew up in started with a “W” which made the wait even worse as we were almost always the last to be announced.
Upon hearing the report we hastily put on any footwear we could find to go outside and check the snow conditions.This was key. A nice packing, heavy snow meant the day was going to be filled with snowball fights and digging forts in snow banks. The light powder was a sure sign that the neighborhood kids could be found at our local high school, which had the biggest hill in town for sleigh ridding. I thought nothing of leaving my Atari 2600 to sit idle for the day.
Now it seems like the only thing on kids minds when they face a day off is what digital mind suck they will take part in, on what screen, and how they can manage a day of complete isolation.
Seriously, my youngest kids hate snow like a retired iron worker. They’re already planning their move to Florida. I have an adult child I’m pretty sure has never dug a car out from under a snowbank. I spent a lot of time with my older kids doing fun things outdoors during the winter. Snowmen and tunnels. Making snow angels and taking a snowshoe hike. Hot chocolate followed everything we did. Good times and great memories for sure.
I’m not sure if this generation has changed on it’s own or if I’m to blame as well. Let’s face it, my younger kids don’t want to go out in the snow, and to be perfectly honest, neither do I. I’m not the twenty something year old I once was with my older kids.
I don’t enjoy walking up a huge snow covered hill over and over. I don’t miss making snowmen until my gloves are a soggy mess. The cold hurts my body and as long as I’m being transparent you should know the boys probably got the idea about moving to Florida by listening to me complain to their mom that I’ve seen enough winters and snow banks and would like to trade it for some beaches and sand dunes. I guess the older I get, the further I am from the playful child of a long forgotten time when kids shoveled the walks of elderly neighbors for free. Neighbors whose names they actually knew.
Maybe times have changed. Maybe the way kids like to spend their time has changed too. One thing that is sure to change is the way some people view a snow day as they get older. That might be the nature of nostalgia. We make memories sweeter than the actual experience. Or maybe as I sit here ready to take up a shovel and face, what I think, is about the 300th snowstorm of my life, I’ve just had enough. Maybe there is a little retired iron worker in me after all. Perhaps, after so many flakes, some of us become the winter grumbler and dream of climate where snow days never existed.