Bing Crosby may have dreamed of a white Christmas, but if you were a kid who lived where it snowed, you dreamed of white school days. It was an unexpected vacation, maybe one day, maybe a week; it all depended on how much of the white stuff fell from the sky. Let’s look back at this beloved winter surprise.
The ritual that began a snow day was a tad unnerving, to say the least. You would wake up to find the ground (and especially the roads) covered with a fresh, and hopefully substantial, coating of white powder. Suddenly struck with nervous optimism, you would turn on the radio and search for undoubtedly the best thing ever to be broadcast over the airwaves (in the mind of a child, at least), the ever-so-slowly recited list of school closures. On a good day, this list was extensive, meaning that there was a very good chance your school district would be mentioned. One by one, you would listen, holding your breath, tensing up at the name of every district that started with the same letter as yours. Hopefully, this torture would end quickly but it usually didn’t, and the wait could seem like an eternity. If they didn’t mention your district, it was like being punched in the gut, a disappointment that lingered for much of the day. And to make matters worse, sometimes they added names to the list each time around, building your hopes sky high before they dropped like a thawed icicle. But oh, if they said that long-anticipated group of words you yearned to hear, it suddenly became a magnificent day, yours to do with whatever you pleased.
Normally one had to be sick (or be an expert at feigning it) to get an unexpected day off from school. The problem was, once you said you were sick, you were required to stay in bed, couldn’t have friends over, etc. A snow day was wonderfully different; it was a day to bundle up and play in your freshly blanketed town. You could spend the day building jolly snowmen and impenetrable snow forts, have snowball fights with your friends (and enemies,) or engage in just about any other sub-freezing activity imaginable. Snow angels, anyone?
Oh, and should the missed school day involve any scheduled testing or reports that were due, it was like a last minute stay of execution from the Governor, a miracle from above. Well, except for one little detail. You usually had to make the day up sometime before summer vacation began should you surpass the allotted amount of snow days for the year.
That would be something to groan about for another day. For now at least, maybe even for tomorrow, you were free to play, free to get your feet frozen and your nose as red as Rudolph’s. And you milked it for all it was worth.
If you lived in snow country, share your childhood memories of snow days with us in our comments section. What winter activities did you engage in? Do you remember a particularly nasty storm that shut your town down for the week? Tell us all about it as we fondly recall snow days, here at Retroland.