Snow Expectations

Guest Column by Jodi Nisly Hertzler

Editor’s Note: Jodi Nisly Hertzler writes occasionally for Another Way and is a college counselor, tutor, and freelance proofreader. Jodi and her husband have three children.

January and February, bleak and never-ending months of dullness and torpidity, need snow days like bran muffins need chocolate chips.

I need a snow day.

I work at the school my kids attend, so a snow day for one is a snow day for all. And by gum, we need a snow day.

Last year, we had so many snow days and delays we went for months without a full week of school. A bit excessive, I grant you, but we didn’t complain one bit. This year? Nary a one. We did have a delay toward the end of January. It was the best delay of my life and I got a ton of work done (which was desperately needed because I still had Christmas decorations up and was hosting a party that weekend). A delay is nice, but it isn’t enough.

I need a snow day.

Waking up to a world changed by a nighttime snowfall makes me feel like a starving and wilderness-weary Israelite who has just discovered manna all over the ground. Snow days are God’s gift of sanity and rest to the schoolbound.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. Love it. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I’m a college counselor and I adore talking to students about what their futures may hold. I love helping them apply for college—a process that can be daunting and confusing, and yet is so filled with hope and optimism. The work gives me energy. I get to spend hours writing letters about how wonderful each of our students is. How great is that?

So it’s not that I need a break from work exactly. But, then again, I do. I need the sort of halt that comes when a few inches of snow bring our Virginia city to a standstill. (Northerners, feel free to scoff.) It’s such a calm, peaceful feeling to be nestled up inside with a fire in the fireplace and coffee in hand, kids sledding down the driveway and granola baking in the oven, all normal routine shut down for that one day. I love sitting at my computer, watching the flakes fall gently outside, my most pressing concern being whether to make the hot chocolate right away or wait until we’re playing Settlers of Catan. Our climate is such that, by afternoon, the sun will have melted the snow off the car and driveway, so I don’t have to shovel. I don’t even have to go outside if I don’t want to (the kids are finally old enough to go out to sled and build snow forts on their own, praisetheLordsinghallelujah).

As I write this in mid-January, it hasn’t been that long since Christmas vacation, so I shouldn’t really need a snow day. But vacations are different. They’re planned. We know they’re coming, so we make arrangements for outings and fill to-do lists with projects and chores. Vacations are busy. Snow days are perfect because they are unplanned-for surprise days of no expectations.

I realize that for extroverted types who love to stay busy, snow days can be a depressing and frustrating drag. And I have great sympathy for mothers of young children that bounce off the walls when cooped up inside (the alternative being the unholy mess of wrangling wet snowsuits and forcing tiny hands into gloves and slogging around in the snow pretending to have fun). Been there, built that snowman.

But now that my kids are older and I work full time, I love nothing better than an excuse to get caught up on Downton Abbey or to spend the day reading books in my pajamas or to fill my afternoon with cooking and baking projects. A day of leisure with no guilt about the work that’s not being accomplished—the true, unadulterated snow day.

Alas, the forecast is dismal. Rain, then sun, then cold, then rain. More sun. Clouds. I get my hopes up every time there’s a chance of snow, but it never amounts to more than a wee dusting. The only snow of consequence this year was over Thanksgiving break, which was no help at all. January and February, bleak and never-ending months of dullness and torpidity, need snow days like bran muffins need chocolate chips.

I am bereft. My chum, the Polar Vortex, has abandoned me.

D o you love snow days? Why or why not? Post your comment on the Another Way Newspaper Column Facebook page, or send your thoughts by email to or Another Way, 1251 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802.