Like many people, I have fond snow day memories from my childhood. There were few greater joys than waking up in the morning – often with my pajamas inside out – to find out that my prayers for school to close had been answered. Looking out on a blanket of snow on our yard and watching the school closings scroll underneath the "Today Show," I would prepare myself for a day of playing outside.
I would bundle up in my warmest coat and snow pants, grab my sled, and trudge next-door to ring the doorbell and see if my neighbor wanted to play, which on snow days he inevitably did. Then we would trudge one more house over, ring the doorbell, and greet our third friend before we moved into his backyard, which had the best sledding hill.
We would lose track of time as we went down the hill again and again, occasionally breaking for snowball fights or maybe a game of hide-and-seek tag in the snow. Eventually, whichever mom we were in closest proximity to would yell out the door, inviting us inside for lunch or for a cup of hot chocolate. We would warm up and rest for a bit before launching right back into our outdoor escapades, until the sun went down on our snow day.
When I was in high school and the D.C. area was hit with two back-to-back snowstorms, bringing multiple feet of snow and closing down schools for more than a week, one of my friends was snowed in with my family and me as we lost power for several days. We were working on a project for our chemistry class where we were supposed to make a hot air balloon out of tissue paper, and we constructed and decorated it with the light from a lantern and headlamps. When the power finally came back on, we saw that the whole basement floor had been coated with glitter in the process.
In college, during one snowstorm, I joined friends huddled near the fireplace inside someone's small room on the lawn at the University of Virginia, before bursting outside to join hundreds of other students at midnight, engaging in the largest snowball fight I have ever been a part of. Though I had made it to my 20s at that point, it was a reminder of the community, hospitality, and simple joys that I had always loved about snow days.
Snow days are different as an adult, but I still feel a glimmer of that childhood magic when I wake up to see the world looking a little bit brighter, with fluffy flakes falling from the sky. I still make myself a cup of hot chocolate when I am home from the office, trying to savor what remains of that snow day joy.
These unexpected days of rest feel like graces from God, who knows how weary we can get when we convince ourselves that we need to be productive every moment of every day, often at the expense of rest, play, or fellowship with others. When snow-packed roads force us to remain at home, we have the opportunity to recharge and to enjoy some extra time with our family and friends.
While I enjoy this grace, I also remember that some people do not have a cozy home to retreat to on days like this. Anyone in D.C. who sees someone outside in need of respite from the cold can call the shelter hotline at 202-399-7093 or 311 and see a list of warming centers here.
Today, as I look out my window to see the winter landscape, I thank God for the grace of an extra day at home and pray that others may stay safe and warm as well.