The Many Stages of a Snow Day

It’s November 12th. I’m sure some of you are still enjoying autumnal weather. You might even still have leaves on your trees. But up here in Maine, it snowed and then turned into a wintry mix today, so the whole fam got a snow day. (A moment of silence, please, for the many Mainers who don’t get snow days at work, and they are legion. But one of the huge perks (in my book) of working in education is that I continue to get them, and Denisa does as well, since she teaches at the university. I do feel somewhat guilty whenever I post about my snow days, knowing I’ve got lots of neighbors who don’t get the same luxury, but . . . I can’t help myself. Sorry.)

I thought I’d take a minute to go through the many stages of a snow day, tracing the arc they go through as they enter your life and then leave it. This will make more sense as I go through it.

First: Awareness. A week before a storm, you first begin to hear rumblings that a storm might reach critical mass, culminating in a day off work and school. This is very early on, and you recognize that the odds are still stacked against you, but you begin to hope. To dream. And that helps even the dullest day shine brighter. (It’s true that sometimes snow days completely skip this step. Stealth snow days, we’ll call them, where a storm materializes ex nihilo. But almost all of them give you some heads up before.

Second: Denial. As the storm approaches, you begin trying to convince yourself that there’s no way it’s actually going to happen. You couldn’t get that lucky. The storm will be a whiff. You build up protective layers around that hope, preparing yourself for disappointment. Often, this ends up being important, as the snow storm you thought would be so awesome gets downgraded into just a few flurries.

Third: Preparedness. At this point, you’re beginning to face the fact that this storm is going to come, and there’s a very real possibility you won’t have to go to work or school. Despite your best efforts to remain in Stage Two, you begin to toy with the many things you might do if you were to get the day off. The chores that could get done. The way you wouldn’t squander that gift of time. If you had an extra day . . .

Fourth: Anger. Your hopes get to the point that you begin to feel entitled to that snow day, and yet you realize it might still be snatched away from you. What if it snows, but the Powers That Be don’t give you the day off? What if they just don’t understand the sort of risks the entire town will be taking if the streets are flooded with cars and busses on the way to work and school? What if they make you come in out of sheer spite or ignorance? Surely they can see a major storm. Still, you go to sleep the night before a potential snow day, nervous as a naughty kid the night before Christmas. Hopeful. Fairly optimistic. But still cognizant that it could all vanish in a puff of flurries.

Fifth: Fitfulness. You wake up multiple times, checking the clock and your phone to see if there are any alerts. 4am. Still nothing. 5am. The kids’ school gets canceled. 5:30. Still nothing about your work. You try to keep sleeping, but you’re bouncing back and forth between all the earlier stages. Anger. Awareness. Denial. Preparedness. But your snow day has turned into Schrödinger’s Cat. It is both present and not present at the same time, and until that final alert comes in, you have no idea how your day will be.

Sixth: Euphoria. The alert comes through, and there is much rejoicing. You bask in the glow of the knowledge that your dream came true, and you vow you will accomplish All the Things.

Seventh: Nap. Exhausted from your fitful sleep, you slip into a real rest at last, comforted by the knowledge that the world is your oyster today. You deserve more sleep. You’ve earned it, after all. This snow day happened because you willed it to happen.

Eighth: Wakefulness. Realizing you’ve slept longer than you intended, you get up at last and vow to get some of that To Do list done. Right after you have a nice breakfast. And do the crossword. And maybe read for a while. And check the news.

Ninth: Concern. The day is slipping away from you. You’ve had fun, sure, but there are only a few hours left before you’d have been home from work anyway, and that To Do list is still a mile long. You begin to wonder if someone didn’t sneak in and steal some of your time when you weren’t looking. After all, you had the whole day. Where is it going?

Tenth: Acceptance. So you’re not going to get everything done. So you got almost nothing of your list done, actually. You still had the day. You still had fun. You check the weather forecast, hoping another storm might be somewhere on the horizon. You go back to the first stage, and repeat the cycle again.

Where am I right now? Well, I skipped the nap stage, because this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m churning through my to do list quite well, actually, and I’ve plenty of fun in the morning already. Do enough snow days, and you can actually break free of the cycle and have fun and be productive. But that’s for the advanced course . . .

Happy snow day, and thanks for reading!


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