They won’t know…

If I close my eyes, I can remember it so clearly…

Still mostly dark, the wind swirled the snow around, back up, around in circles, and then downward. A quick glance out of the frosty, single-paned window showed no sign of our car, our driveway … just a white blanket of peaks and valleys, peaceful under the break of dawn.

As I climbed out of my warm bed, shimmied my feet into my slippers, and made my way down the long, straight staircase, I followed the unmistakable crackle of my mother’s search for a radio station that would offer an updated list of school closures.

Kneeling before the stereo, I waited as they listed school after school: Augusta, Fairfield, Oakland, Skowhegan, Waterville, Winslow.  Yes! A snow day!

And in that small moment, the day before me felt as though it held the potential for wonder and magic.

It was as though the hours ahead were gifted just to me.

Hours that allowed me to play in my nightgown, the softest lawn of flannel with the tiniest of pink rosebuds scattered across it, until the snow beckoned me outside, until I would lay out my snowsuit, hat, mittens, scarf.

Hours to build forts and bring snowmen into being and make snow angels just to see them fill back in before my eyes.

Hours to come inside just long enough to warm up and don fresh mittens and hat. Long enough to place my boots near the radiator to warm and dry them. Long enough for a mug warm, thick cocoa.

My children will never know this simple joy of these stolen days.

They’ll never know the way that snow balls up on your mittens and freezes there.

They’ll never know how long it takes to get into a snowsuit, force their boots on over two pair of socks, and that sting of a frozen nose. They’ll never know fuschia cheeks from the bite of cold.

They’ll never be able to distinguish between the type of snow that makes a perfect snowman, the right snow for sledding, or the consistency of snow that is just perfect for snow angels.

They won’t know the way the sky darkens in the late afternoon and how the snow simply sparkles in the waning light.

They won’t know firsthand that no two snowflakes are alike…that they are tiny crystals, each lovely in its uniqueness.

The beauty of a blizzard, of being forced to stay home and live simply while waiting for it to pass, will be unfamiliar to them.

They won’t know of board games played by candlelight, the warmth of their mother’s smile in the warm glow.

I wish they could know the quiet of a blizzard, how the snow buffers the world around it and makes everything just a bit more beautiful.

There are so many things about my childhood that I hope they’ll never experience.

But the magic of winter? Oh, how I wish they could know the joy of school cancellations and snow days.

Of stolen moments of pure childhood joy.


  1. Natalie

    I felt the cold…I actually enjoyed it! What's interesting about me saying that is that I HATE the cold. I avoid it at all costs. For you to be able to capture it and want me to feel it? That says a lot.

    I'm including this in my Monster Likes on Saturday :)

  2. Carrie

    Someday you will have to take a vacation to a winter wonderland so your children can experience snow. Every child should, at least once!

  3. Mandyland

    This post gave me goosebumps and made me smile. And, in a weird way, it made me feel warm even as my fingers ached remembering the icy gloves. I grew up in an area that got snow. Not blizzards by any means, but enough snow to close school once or twice a year. You perfectly described the magic of a snow day.

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

  4. Adrienne

    Oh, it's a rare snow day here in Albuquerque, but so wonderful when it happens. I remember that feeling – that the day was a gift.

    Thanks, you!

  5. SquashedMom

    Well, we, of course, had a snow day today here in New York City, with an unexpected 19 inches coming our way overnight last night. And you got it just right. Our apartment building is right next to tone of the best sledding hills in Riverside Park, so our apartment becomes "sledding central" on Snow Days. So, yes today we had a gaggle of 8 year-old boys and a few younger siblings over before and after the big outdoor sledding/snowman build/ snowball fight event. Lego towers were created and destroyed. Vats of hot cocoa were guzzled (mocha coffee for the moms). Mmmmm.

    Your post was so lovely and evocative of your (and echoing my) childhood version of this kind of day. I love your writing. Thank you.

  6. ah, yes we have one of those blizzards happening right now.. and it is just magical.

  7. Nancy C

    I grew up in Arizona, and always felt like a stranger in my own country when it came to snow days, winter, all that was depicted in Robert Frost or Charlie Brown. I felt like I was missing out.

    You know what's funny? Now that I live with the snow and seasons, I miss Arizona. I'm happy my boys get to experience the magic you describe so well, but….it's not what I grew up with. It's not the memories that made my own small moments.

  8. jessb27

    A snow day, the perfect life of a child. This post makes me want to have grown up in your house. I felt there and I felt the warm and the cold all at once.

  9. Peggy

    I swear your writing gets better every week! This piece is so beautifully written. It's so true that a snow day is like a gift of a free day. It's the one morning that kids jump out of bed and are ready for the day (knowing they don't have a bus to catch).
    You have just described this winter in Maine.
    Oh, and snow banks that we have now in our driveway. They are huge. Perfect for fort building.

  10. I remember the thrill of waking up to snow-and turning on the radio-and hearing those magical words…Now I live in a place where snow barely makes people blink.. My daughter is in the 9th grade-and has had one snow day in all her years in school-and then the announcement came via the internet-posted on her school's home page. Not the same!
    I'm going to have her read this post-so she can experience the magic too:)

  11. Living in Canada as a child, we looked forward to snow days which happened quite often. Now when I see the snow and hear of "snow days" I shudder. It's amazing how age can change how we view "snow days"…

  12. Ah, snow days… I remember my first one after living in Florida for my earliest years. Nothing better than a snow day!

  13. @mamabegood

    Lovely! I grew up in Florida – and we had our own memories – not snow ones – just different.

  14. Sherri

    In true Nichole fashion, you've used your lovely words and taken something mothers all across the country dread and turned it into something magical.

    I'm wishing for a California snow day after reading this….it's perfect.

  15. MelissaDrMom

    Those snow days sound magical. I sort of wish we would get some too. Kids really see it so differently and look what an impression it left on you. Lovely post Nichole :)

  16. Megan-Best of Fates

    Just to totally miss the point of your whole post – you don't have snow?? ENVY

  17. likeagiraffe

    loved this! i grew up in california, and lack my parent's experiences growing up with snow. i've felt strange pangs of jealousy… :)

    my blizzard post:

  18. I liked this. I had completely fogotten about the little snowballs on cloth mittens… And I remember the snow being so thick that my dad would have to jump down from my second story window to be able to shovel it away from the front door.

    My little one is smitten with even the tiniest flurry. I wish I had the ability to have her experience what I did as a child also. Great memories.

  19. Tracie

    I grew up in warm Florida (in fact, I'm still in warm Florida) so I never knew the joys of winter with snow…but you gave a lovely glimpse of it here.

  20. I agree about the snow days- they are fun. The only reason I know about them is from teaching in CT. Even as a teacher, I loved the snow days– until we had to make them up in June! Don't beat yourself up- just take your kids to Tahoe so they can see snow. LOL!

  21. Jennifer Dillon

    I got nervous half way through this that the children weren't going to know the beauty of blizzard days for much darker reasons than simple location. The rhythm of this piece with the two part sentences, "They won’t know firsthand that no two snowflakes are alike…that they are tiny crystals, each lovely in its uniqueness." captured more than just nostalgia, but also an actual ache that read as almost physical.

  22. angela

    You brought back the magic of a snow day, as opposed to the adult hassles of scraping car windows and trying to stay warm! You could see the high school parking lot from my childhood bedroom window. I can remember springing out of bed in the morning and craning my head over the trees, hoping to see an empty parking lot, the high school teachers home in bed.

    Visit Michigan in winter :) I'll show you around :)

  23. Christy

    Your post makes me want to move North so my kids can experience that even when I didn't.

    ok … it's cold up there … I'm better now. We get snow days when someone sees paper flying in the air and imagines it as snow :-)

    Beautifully written! (and you can always visit)

  24. amber

    A life without snow days? I can't imagine. Although right now, I wish I could. This made me look at the snow outside my window a little more appreciatively – thanks for that!

  25. A. B. Keuser

    Wonderfully written! So glad i stopped by.

  26. CDG

    Come visit New England! We've got a 36" base in our backyard! Katie and Matthew can play in Felix's custom snowfort!

  27. Jen

    Really wonderful post. I'm glad to have grown up in California, but this reminds me of my childhood visits to family on the East Coast.

  28. Rachel

    Beautiful, magical writing. You really brought me back to my childhood.

  29. Renee

    I still love the snow. I live where we have winter. Not a ton of snow, but enough to play with.

  30. Tonya

    I've never ever had a snow day. They sound wonderful! :) Beautiful piece. As usual.

  31. Cheryl @ Mommypants

    Can so relate to this, and so sad my kids won't experience the magic of a snow day. Love all the details!

  32. mommylebron

    I loved this! I haven't been in snow since I was four and I had such a hard time describing it in my piece because I just don't have the first hand experience. But here? I felt like I was there. Like I could turn around now and vividly describe it to someone else.

  33. Mad Woman behind the Blog

    I love how you owned this prompt and made it suit you blog. LOVELY, to use that overused and yet completely appropriate.
    We had snow last year, visiting family at Christmas and Maddy was having nothing to do with it. She is so ME!

  34. Sarafree

    Ah, I can tell you have experienced snow! I am clueless, having lived in Texas all my life. Very beautiful. I felt like I had my first real snow day!

  35. @guiltysquid

    So lovely. I have often wished my own children knew the same. Or the millions of amazing fun times that can be had when overnight, your own yard has been transformed into a magical sparkly frozen land.


    They have Texas.

  36. Lydia

    Love this so much. You have a gift of describing the magical moments that make childhood so special. I could feel the joy of the day, and I think ya'll should definately try a vacaion to where it snows someday! A something precious to share with your little ones.

  37. Love this! Brought back memories of my childhood. Our girls aren't quite big enough to enjoy the snow much yet, though S has been begging to get out to play in it, but it's hard to take Baby R out at the same time. For a minute I was worried there was another reason they wouldn't get to know about a blizzard besides just living in Cali! :) Well done!

  38. ksluiter

    YES! this is my childhood! right here! and also? bread bags in my boots so the leaky water didn't get my feet cold and frozen.

    this is beautiful writing!

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