The email landed in my inbox a little over three weeks ago after a relatively light snowfall. “My constituents in the 12th grade,” it began, “have persuaded me to voice a shared concern that we may not be able to relive the past’s sweet winter memories of sleeping in, drinking hot chocolate by the fire, or scavenging up just enough snow to build a snowman. In a world that has become so predictable yet still chaotic, my peers insist that I vouch for a winter weather/mental health day, as this would be a welcome gift to the student body.” He was laying it on a little thick, don’t you think? Still, everybody loves a snow day.
Unfortunately for the senior class and its spokesperson Riley Clinton—or President Clinton as I like to call him, in view of his elected position—I found scant justification for their entreaty. “Your earnest appeal on behalf of the most estimable members of the MICDS Class of 2021,” I replied, “is a credit both to the seriousness with which you execute your obligations as their representative and to the inventiveness with which they would justify my interpretation of a sunny day as a snow day.”
Snow day decisions are rarely easy, and on one occasion, at my former school in Huntsville, Alabama, I got one very wrong. Not a single flake fell. I found my way to Five Guys for lunch—I think the sun was even out by this point—and I happened to catch some glares from two parents who were seated at a nearby table with their three children, all students at the school. I walked over to speak with them. “Raise your hand if you are not happy about our snow day today,” I said. Mom and Dad both shot their arms in the air. “Now raise your hand if you are happy about our snow day today.” All three children nearly rose out of their seats to get their hands up as high as they could. “Three votes against two,” I declared. “The people have spoken!” I like to think that Mom and Dad were amused, but I can’t be sure.
The snow day this past Tuesday, of course, was a very easy one to get right. I also appreciated the opportunity it afforded to make amends with the senior class. “Recalling your late-January appeal,” I wrote to them on Monday afternoon before announcing my decision, “and finding myself in view of more persuasive conditions and forecasts in our vicinity, I have determined that I should now grant this desired occasion to you, and to all other MICDS students; and therefore, in my capacity as Head of School, I declare that Tuesday, February 16, 2021, shall be a traditional snow day at MICDS, during which no classes will be held and all on-campus activities canceled. I wanted you to be the first to know. Happy snow day.”
William Shakespeare’s play The Life and Death of Richard the Third begins famously. “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York; / And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house / In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.” Tomorrow, when the temperature in St. Louis finally rises above freezing again, it will have been two weeks since it has done so. I do not think this will quite make “glorious summer” of “the winter of our discontent,” but it’s a step in the right direction. Cases of COVID-19 have been declining steadily, too, and perhaps herd immunity is closer than we imagine. It is pleasant to think so in any case. Winter is never forever.
Always reason, always compassion, always courage. May any clouds that lour’d upon your house be in the deep bosom of the ocean buried—or perhaps in the deep bosom of the snowman that you brought to life on Tuesday. I wish you a very happy weekend with your families.
Head of School