Many countries experience snow as an unremarkable part of winter. Daily life and routines continue as normal. But this is not the case in the UK, where snow is a major event – we walk around obsessively taking photos of it, we talk to passers-by about it. It even makes the news headlines.
Something funny happens on a snow day in the UK. Time seems to stand still. The streets are deserted. Cars are few and far between, as are people – so much so that they actually acknowledge each other with a nod and a smile when they do cross paths…..maybe even with words. Everyone expects everything to be cancelled, or at the very least extremely problematic. If you do make it to wherever you’re supposed to be going, people congratulate you and tell you how well you’ve done….which is quite nice. You feel like you’ve achieved something significant just by walking round the corner.
The whole day has a not-quite-real feeling about it. And, if you don’t have anywhere super-important that you need to be; if you’re not a shift worker or stuck on gridlocked roads trying to get home then actually, having your day wiped clear for reasons beyond your control can be quite refreshing……You’re not surprised to hear that your shopping won’t be delivered during your requested time-slot, and it doesn’t even really matter – no, you’re not sure what you’re going to eat but everything is a bit of an adventure, your children are outside and happy and no-one really knows what the time is anyway. Your normal routine is temporarily suspended and, after weeks of rushing around with a thousand and one things in your head – costumes to make and raffle tickets to buy, Christmas fairs and carol concerts, end of term parties and preformances – what a pleasant change to be reminded that, for one day at least, none of it matters that much. How refreshing to remember that sometimes things are beyond our control. That we might not be able to do all the things we had planned but life goes on quite happily regardless. For a day at least, all that matters is building snowmen (or watching your children build snowmen); keeping warm and drinking tea.
Shutting down used to be what Sundays were for – the shops weren’t open, things actually stopped. But these days we never shut down. We keep going all week at an often unsustainable pace, unless we’re so ill we can’t move (and even then, we’ll do our best); or there’s a snow day. In this age of never shutting down or even slowing down, then perhaps having a snow day forced upon us occasionally is no bad thing.
So although it is seen as a bit of a joke that this country grinds to a halt at the very sight of snow, yesterday I was actually quite grateful for it. I was grateful to forget our plans and to watch my children throw and build and laugh and fling themselves down in this white, powdery, very cold stuff which falls so rarely. I was happy to warm up with a mulled wine as I watched them whizz down our slide in the garden into a pile of snow. I was happy that my biggest boy got to curl up on the sofa with his book without being rushed anywhere. I enjoyed not knowing or really caring what the time was. And I was grateful for the reminder that very few of the things we rush around for actually matter that much.
We need to make the most of these days when time seems to be gifted to us; because before we know it, we’re back in the real world again. Racing around until the next snow day comes along.
PS If you did have somewhere very important that you needed to be, or if you were stuck on gridlocked and dangerous roads; then yes, I agree – the snow is a total pain.