There is no nationally accepted standard for declaring a snow day. In fact, there are no local standards as near as I can tell. In my hometown, it was not unusual to have a snow day declared for the private schools while the public school kids trudged to classes as usual, or vice versa.
That was much the situation that existed last week when President Obama’s daughters experienced their first Washington, D.C., snow day. Their private school cancelled classes; the public schools did not, prompting President Obama to quip that “in Chicago, school is never canceled. In fact, my 7-year-old pointed out, you'd go outside for recess in weather like this.”
When I was a kid, snow days were cherished gifts, an unexpected windfall from the weather gods in the depths of a gloomy, boring time of the year. Unshackled from the restraints of geography, history, science and arithmetical computations, we turned our attention to more exciting matters, like snow forts, snowball fights or simply plopping our generously wrapped bodies into huge mounds of the white, fluffy stuff.
If we were particularly ambitious, we might try to solicit a snow removal gig, but we were more likely to just let our imaginations run wild as we reveled in our brief, unexpected holiday.
Our parents and grandparents, of course, never had snow days. They were committed to school from a very early age, never wavering in their dedication to absorbing as much knowledge as a young mind could hold in those days of austerity and self-sacrifice. That was the “party line,” at least. I suspect their real truth was a bit closer to mine.
Do you know if there were any snow days in your family’s history?