Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snow Day

"When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make Snow Angels"
Snow day ! Is there anything that brings greater joy to most children than having a ‘free day’ off from school ? On a snowy morning, the children watch the TV, listen to the radio, or nowadays, even check online to see if school is cancelled. When that announcement is made, is there any other kind of merriment that takes place in homes in the “snow belt”? Every family has their own ritual: my children used to sleep with their pajamas on inside out to ‘bring good luck’ on a night in which snow has been forecasted, and then we’ve feasted on pancakes the next morning when the big announcement is made. A snow day feels like a “Get out jail free” card from Monopoly. It seems to be a day completely free of commitments, obligations, and everyday routine. It’s a day to play in the snow, drink hot chocolate, build forts and take a break from reality.

Is it any wonder that, even as grown ups, we long for those days off ? Snow days aren’t like vacation days, or planned personal days. All too often we have our vacations and personal days booked solidly. We try to fit in household chores and big home improvement projects. We book appointments to the dentist or the doctor. We run errands we don’t normally have time to do. Even our ‘days off’, as grown ups, involve planning, structure and commitments. Snow days often have a different meaning to us, as adults. It means rearranging our own schedules to fit our children’s time off from school. This often adds even more stress to our already hectic lives. My husband and I are as guilty of this as any couple: we use days off to do yard work, fix fences, steam clean the carpets, paint rooms, take trips to the dump, we wash the cars, reorganize drawers and closets and clean out the refrigerator. We pay bills, we catch up on “Honey Do” items we’ve missed. We lose the magic.

While I’m not advocating allowing garbage to pile up by missing dump runs, or skipping bill paying, what I’d like to propose is a grown up Snow Day. The world we live in is a very stressful place. We are barraged by overwhelming information, day and night. When we were little, listening to the radio on snow days, brought us the fantastic news of a day off ! Now, as adults, we’re more likely to focus on the scary aspects of the news; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, government corruption, a failing economy and local crime. It can be crushing. For your Grown Up Snow Day, I advocate turning off the radio, not going online and call screening (in case of emergency, do make sure you *are* available). Remember, this is only for one day ! Instead of listening to the news, put on music on CD. Instead of watching the news, how about turning on old movies or TV shows ? I still love watching old episodes of “Bewitched” and “I Dream of Jeannie”. My husband gets a kick out of watching the Boston Bruins Classic games, from when he was a boy. It you want to watch television, put on a program that will bring back memories of lighter times. Channel your “Inner Samantha” and twitch your nose to create a true day off: no responsibilities, no commitments. Create a snow day that will make you laugh, help you to relax…and do your best to laugh as much as you can. Rest is lovely, but a day of laughter can be even more healing.

One way I cultivate joy on a Snow Day is to watch my dogs. While Mackenzie, my 6 year old German Shepherd, is the Queen of Dignity and Serious Thought most of the time, a snow day turns her in frolicking, goofy and uninhibited puppy. She digs, she rolls, she tunnels her way through the giant mounds of fresh Maine powder. When she would ordinarily want to heel at my side and behave with the utmost of authority, Mackenzie sinks into complete abandon in the snow. My perspective is “If Mackenzie can do it, so can I!”. If Mackenzie can let go of all of her discipline, I can let loose and just enjoy myself for a day too. In Yoga, the pose that best represents this is Extended Puppy Pose. A cross between Child’s Pose and Downward Facing Dog, it looks silly, but it feels fantastic. It’s a wonderful way to relieve stress, as well as to open up your back. Extended Puppy Pose is also great for people who have wrist issues, and find Down Dog to be painful.

So, let the snow fall ! Pop the popcorn ! Go outside and make snow angels ! Watch old movies ! Most of all, let the world revolve outside without you. Whatever is there…it can wait. Don’t waste your time feeling useful. Just have fun and let tomorrow come soon enough.

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful. But, the fire is so delightful...and since we've no place to go, let it snow ! Let it snow, let it snow !"...Holiday Carol