On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...well, an extra week of Winter Break. Or rather, for an early Christmas present, the sky decided to dump enough snow and ice on the roads of Lake Oswego to close schools for days on end. And as kids we love it. I mean, I was excited just to have one school week left before the break. And now not to have to actually go to school for that week? It is a dream come true.
Along with saving us from tests we weren't quite ready for, the snow days forced many residents to make significant lifestyle changes. Because many roads were closed due to ice, people could no longer just hop in their cars to carry them anywhere in the city. Those that managed to get their cars out of snow-covered driveways then had to strap chains onto the vehicle's wheels. My parents did not even go near our car until Tuesday, when my dad finally had the good spirit to put chains on. And even with chains, some of the hills (and Lake Oswego has a lot of hills) were still too slick to drive on.
So driving was not a practical option, at least not for the first few days of the week, when the snowfall was the greatest. So what did many people do? Walk. I certainly walked. I walked to the grocery store, to restaurants, to my friends' houses. I even walked on treacherous swatches of ice, and scaled slippery hills long before the city officially closed them. Although all of this ice-crossing didn't actually work out too well… more about that later.
And I saw a multitude of other residents out, bundled up with coats and scarves, trudging down Stafford Road in snow boots. Health videos and environmental studies have been telling the public for decades that the extent to which we rely on cars is unhealthy for us and the Earth. But it takes a natural outcry, in the form of black ice, to convince people to walk for practicality.
Of course, there were those who elected not to walk anywhere. No cars, no go. After having a nasty fall on McVey, I joined the 'ice hates me and I am not going anywhere until I can use my car' camp.
And while this meant days of supposed boredom, 'stuck' inside the house, I discovered that home days could actually be both practical and very restorative. I began to understand why, when you walked past certain houses, the snow was undisturbed and no footprints ran from the door to outside. I found that when you are in no hurry to go anywhere, you finally have time to participate in all the cute holiday festivities we so often feel we rush past.
You can blare the decades old 'Canterbury Carols' CD, sit around a Christmas tree, have family dinners, or simply sleep in. I finally went through a never-ending list of chores constantly bogging me down during the school week, which turned out not to be long after all. And I can smell holiday baking from all around the neighboring houses.
So the snow day, or snow week, was a gift for all parts of a person. The friend got to see other friends and simply hang out; the school kid or worker got to avoid work for that much longer; the religious got a chance to reconnect with their god; the housekeeper got a chance to tidy the house. All in all, for those affected by it, the snow week gave us a chance to breathe.
So let it snow. Let it snow so we can relax, repair and celebrate. Happy Holidays!