Writing this, I feel almost giddy with the realisation that we have had not one, but three snow days in the past two winters. Back in my London days, working in a city that enjoyed a snow day roughly once a decade, and at a school that would stay doggedly open if the four horsemen of the apocalypse were rearing at the gates, this was the sort of stuff that dreams were made of.
It’s practically Canada, I think to myself, peering groggily through the curtains at 6am into the whiteout, except with infrastructure that grounds to a halt at the merest mention of the words “extreme” and “weather” in the same sentence.
By 6.15am, Piglet’s school have announced a closure and I am on the department WhatsApp group, angling for news that ours will be the same. The school website has crashed under the weight of a thousand parents constantly refreshing, and I wonder if it’s down for maintenance, being updated in detail about a possible week-long snowdrift, and maybe we should all just call it a day now and have a very early extended half term holiday.
“Piglet,” I whisper, still unsure whether we are spending the day sledging down the nearest golf course on baking trays or whether I have to somehow get him to Granny’s house in the next half an hour before going to work. “You know how I told you last night that if you were a good boy, The Snowman would come from the film and deposit snow all over Bristol?” I had seriously considered this to be the definitive acid test of whether or not he actually is a good boy. Everyone knows Father Christmas has never really been known to withhold a present, elf on the shelf or not, but snow….now snow is special.
“It’s here,” I whisper. “Come and have a look. You WERE a good boy! I told you great things happen when you APOLOGISE after grabbing another child’s face and making them cry.”
Piglet asks to be carried to the window to view the miracle for himself, like the prince on a palanquin that he basically always is.
“Yay, yay, yay!” is his response, the most delighted since Christmas Day dawned, revealing the long-awaited presents underneath the tree.
The truth is, snow days are obviously brilliant, but at the same time not everything they are cracked up to be. You feel as though you get extra bonus time snuggled up in bed because you don’t have to leave the house-but actually you don’t because your alarm still went off at six and in the half an hour between that alarm and confirmation that you weren’t going to work, you had already woken up, eaten breakfast and got dressed into a highly weather-inappropriate work outfit, and anyway there’s no going back to bed with an overexcited child who thinks all his Christmas books have come to life and he’s off outside in his pyjamas for a quick flight above the snowy hills with The Snowman himself while Aled Jones sings in the background. Then there’s the fact that said child doesn’t even really like snow once he realises it’s actually very cold and wet, and these two features of snow make it an uncomfortable combination when you are three feet tall and the white stuff is spilling over the tops of your wellington boots. Or when you are accidentally being lobbed in the face with a fistful of the stuff by your own mother after you foolishly initiate a snowball fight (#didnthappen). In fact, by 9am, just as the streets are coming to life with people driving very slowly while their wheels skid in the snow, children attending the few schools that are open and people popping out for a pint of milk or walking their dogs inexplicably attired in shorts (I kid thee not), we are on our way home, Piglet having sworn off snow for the next “sixty-five years.” His words not mine. As if there’ll be snow in 65 years! We need to make the most of it while it’s here (climate change klaxon).
He later concedes that sixty-one years might be more reasonable.
We are out in it again three hours later, this time with Piglet carrying in his pocket a very small specimen from a bag of frozen baby carrots I had in the freezer, “so we can make a snowman.”
So the moral of the story is, snow days are not all one might expect, having been raised on a yearly diet of schmaltzy Christmas films and Wham!’s Last Christmas video and consequently expecting every bout of frozen precipitation to be accompanied by mulled wine, families being reunited and people falling in love with their servants who may or may not speak the same language. But hey, I might have had to carry around a rapidly congealing frozen carrot for the privilege, but at least I got a day off work. And that’s always a bonus.