Snow days were a pretty foreign concept for me until I moved to the Midwest. In my defense, Florida schools didn’t have much reason to ever need a snow day. Hurricane days, well, that’s a different story. I also didn’t grow up knowing how the weight of winter bogs down the spirits for some. I love reading the stories of early settlers to the Plains, and I always marvel at how they survived the rugged winters of isolation. Peppered throughout those tales are real struggles of physical survival and, sometimes, even more harrowing ones of mental and psychological trials. Even though I sit in a well-insulated home with all the creature comforts one could imagine, I identify with those challenges as the gray days of winter are often symbolic of the unrelenting nature of grief.
Over the years, I have embraced the hygge concept of relishing the quiet and stillness of winter. Yet, even in those idyllic moments of quiet reflection, grief still has a way of sneaking up on the least suspecting. I have learned, however, that God’s light shines brightest in the darkness, and his illuminating path to joy shone brightly yesterday.
I have written about this story in my book, but one of the greatest ways to remember a lost loved one is to celebrate the traditions they loved. A few years before our 12-year-old son died, he reminded me of “our snow day tradition” which, prior to that conversation, I had no idea we had such a tradition.
Don’t you remember, Mom? You always make us cookies and hot chocolate on the first snow day of the school year?
To be honest, I didn’t remember then, but I certainly do now. Don’t get me wrong, because I am definitely not complaining, but the last couple of years we have hadn’t any real snow days. That previous lack has been more than made up for in the last 48 hours. The last few days our quiet little corner of Minnesota has been covered in blankets and blankets of snow resulting in not one but two snow days. As the grayness of the day was settling in, I looked at our youngest, who is now the same age and grade her brother was when he passed away, and said, “Do you wanna make some cookies?” (I know you thought I was going to ask about a snowman, didn’t you?)
Within the blink of an eye, there was a flurry of activity in the kitchen that rivaled the flurries falling outside. To honor Reed and to bring some joy to an otherwise blustery day, we whipped up a big batch of one of our favorite cookie recipes. The time we spent remembering, the aroma of ooey-gooey goodness baking, and the joy of making more memories brought huge smiles to our faces.
So even though I didn’t grow up putting bread bags on my feet to play in the snow and I had no idea that your entire body can hurt from being cold, I have come to relish a good snow day, even if for nothing other than the cookies!
What snow day traditions does your family celebrate? If you don’t have one, try to think of something you could all enjoy. Ideas other than cookies (but seriously, how can you go wrong with those?) include a candlelight supper, picnic supper on the floor, blanket fort sleepover, snuggle up and read day, crafternoon, movie marathon, building a snowman, going snowshoeing or hiking, sledding, roasting winter campfire s’mores, or having a pajama day all day!
Team Stevens Pumpkin cookies (Family and neighborhood kids approved!)
- 1 can pumpkin
- 2 T milk
- 2 t baking soda
- 2 c sugar
- 1 c oil
- 2 eggs
- 4 c flour
- 2 t vanilla
- 4 t baking powder
- 2 t cinnamon
- 1 t salt
- 1 c chocolate chips
- 1 c butterscotch chips
Mix well and drop onto cookie sheet. (We use parchment lined sheets for ease of clean up.) Bake at 400F for 10 -12 minutes.