The weathermen are forecasting 10-14″ of snow for our area, beginning tonight and into tomorrow. Normally, I’m skeptical of the weathermen. But see, my darling husband is doing two weeks of military training in Tennessee, which means that we will probably end up with 20″ or more. At least this time, I will have my 22-year-old stepson on hand to help with the shoveling. (Thanks, Trent!)
I’m praying this doesn’t occur; this is just a bad week for it to snow heavily. But in honor of the impending storm, I am dusting off a piece that originally appeared in my online column for The Frederick NewsPost a few years ago, shortly after SNOWMAGEDDON. I needed the reminder that there are worst things in life than a little snow, and that I just need to count my blessings!
I was six and living in Connecticut during the 1983 blizzard. My aunt and uncle had tickets to see Annie on-stage at Radio City Music Hall, and they took my cousin and me despite the heavy snow that had begun falling that afternoon. We trudged uptown from Grand Central, the icy flakes sticking to our eyelashes, not a taxi in sight. It was dark and I’m sure it was cold, but I don’t remember that. What I remember is singing songs from the musical and kicking at the drifting snow along the way. It remains one of my fondest memories.
When I heard of a severe snowstorm heading our way a few weeks ago, I was more wary than excited. I’d always preferred winter to summer, the bitter cold to the stifling heat. Along with my children, I would pray for the occasional snow day and for some good, snowman-quality flakes. Chalk it up to the Yankee in me. But this time, facing two to three feet of snow while trying to take care of four children (to include a two-month old and two-year old) on my own didn’t even begin to sound like fun. After a weekend stuck inside, our snack pantry and my patience both wearing thin, it was all I could do not to have a meltdown when the forecast called for another 30 inches or so. But like a good military wife, I sucked it up. Or at least I tried to.
The night the second blizzard hit, when I couldn’t see the house across the street for all the snow blowing around, Murphy decided to impose his law upon us. Our furnace stopped working and the temperature in the house quickly dropped. I knew it was a blockage in the pipes outside, so I bundled myself up like an Inuit and waded through waist-high drifts to the side of the house. I half-expected to encounter a Yeti. Despite clearing the blockage, I still couldn’t get the furnace to work. That’s when my resolve crumbled and I sat in the basement sobbing.
The children, sensing my defeat, rallied around me. While I set up the space heaters, my seven year old cleared space in her room so her brothers could stay with her and share the heater. My five year old gathered all of their blankets together, and the two year old supervised the proceedings. For her part, the two month old sat quietly watching; considering she was swaddled as tightly as a caterpillar in a cocoon, that was about all she could do. They weren’t worried about the blizzard raging outside, nor the fact that we didn’t have any heat. For them, this was a grand adventure.
Later, after they’d finally drifted off and I was snuggled on the couch with the baby and some hot chocolate (oh, who am I kidding? It was a small glass of wine), I started pitying myself. Here I was, trapped in a snow globe with four small children, no heat, and no husband. I wish I could say I had some poignant epiphany, but really it was just an errant thought, a quote from Evan Almighty, that popped into my head. “If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?” God was certainly giving me plenty of opportunities to exercise patience, among other things. Including the opportunity to count my blessings.
Yes, I was stuck at home. But at least I had a home. My heat wasn’t working, but we were keeping warm nonetheless and I knew that eventually it would be fixed. My kids caught me at my weakest moment, but despite smelling blood in the water, they chose to come to my rescue instead of taking advantage. My husband was 400 miles away, but at least he wasn’t in a war zone. My family and I have health, love, and security; there’s no reason to sit on the pity pot.
I also thought of the opportunity my children had to make their own warm memories. It rarely snows like this, and they may be wary adults by the next time. So when the sun came out, I pushed them outside to play and explore. I watched them make snow angels, sample bits of the untouched stuff, and paint with colored water in spray bottles upon the pristine canvas. And I realized that, through my children, God was giving me the chance to relive some of the best moments of my childhood.
When they came inside, we had hot chocolate—with marshmallows—and cookies. They climbed up on the couch and we huddled together to keep warm while watching some Scooby-Do.
Maybe living inside a snow globe isn’t the worst thing in the world.