trifecta: n. any achievement involving three successful outcomes*
We have a Trifecta in the South. It’s the third snow day in a row for my son, Jared. Actually we have a Double Trifecta because Christian’s college classes have been canceled for the third consecutive day too. Can someone please tell me what is going on here? Don’t start spouting about global warming and polar ice caps slipping, blah, blah, blah. I don’t mean what’s going on with the weather. I mean THREE SNOW DAYS IN A ROW is ridiculous. I grew up in the northeast and we NEVER got three snow days in a row. Don’t misinterpret me. We had three consecutive days of snow plenty of times, we just never had three consecutive snow days. We’d have a snow day sprinkled here and there throughout the winter, but THREE SNOW DAYS IN A ROW? Snow days are supposed to be a little slice of heaven. They’re supposed to be special. You just don’t give a kid three of them in a row. It’s too much of a good thing if you ask me. Back in my day, the governor would have had to declare a state of emergency; it would need to be a blizzard before we’d get three consecutive snow days. By the way, Atlanta, please stop calling this The Blizzard of 2011. Snow storm? Yes. Ice storm? I’ll give you that. Blizzard? Please stop. It’s embarrassing. I’ve been cooped up for three days. I’m bored and I’m cranky. When I get cranky I start saying things like, “When I was a kid…” It drove me crazy to hear adults say that sort of thing when I was young. I even swore that when I grew up to be an adult and had children of my own, I’d never say it. So much for that solemn oath because…
When I was a kid growing up in Connecticut snow days were scarce. When we were lucky enough to get one, it was like pennies from heaven. Let me tell you about snow days back in my day. When snow was in the forecast, you’d wake up about an hour earlier than normal because you’d been praying for school to be canceled the whole night before and you were anxious to find out if your prayers had been answered. So you’d sit in front of the television with a bowl of Captain Crunch. You didn’t sit on the sofa, you sat on the floor. For one thing, you’d be in big trouble if your mom caught you eating anywhere other than at the kitchen table so you sort of scrunched down so she wouldn’t see you. Mostly, you had to sit on the floor in front of the television in order to get close enough to reach the knob that controlled the volume because there was no such thing as a remote control. You had to be able to reach that knob so you could turn up the volume just as loud as it would go as soon as the local news anchorman announced, “and now for a list of school closings.” School names did not scroll across the television, so you’d be very quiet and you’d listen till you heard him say the name of your school. You’d sit and you’d listen, and you’d wait, and you’d listen. Most of the time the doors of school remained open, but on that rare occasion when the anchor man announced that fate had swung your way, you’d immediately leap from your perch and run around the house screaming, “SNOW DAY! SNOW DAY! SNOW DAY!”
Now here is a list of the things you would NOT do on an official snow day. You would not text your friends. Cell phones had not been invented so there was no such thing as texting. You would not email your friends. People did not have personal computers back then. Computers were really, really big and were reserved for use by people like the president and James Bond. You would not call your friends on the telephone. We did have telephones back then, but you would not call your friends because there was no need to make a plan. The plan was always the same. If you were lucky enough to have a snow day, you were going to play outside and so was everybody else in the neighborhood. So the next thing you would do was run to your bedroom to get dressed. Your mom would holler from the kitchen, “You need to bundle up and make sure to wear that wool sweater I made you!” and you’d holler back, “I will, ” and then the ritual began.
You’d start by putting on a full set of thermal underwear, top and bottom. Then you’d put on a pair of tights, and another pair of tights. Then you’d put on a pair of socks, and maybe a second pair if you weren’t getting close to growing out of your snow boots. Then you’d put on a turtleneck. Then you’d put on that heavy wool sweater. Yes, it made your neck itch, but you suffered and wore it anyway because it was warm, plus your mom just told you to wear it. Then you’d put on a pair of blue jeans. You’d put on a pair of snow pants if you had some and if not you’d put on another pair of blue jeans that belonged to someone bigger than you, like your dad. Then you’d put on your boots and your scarf. Then you’d put on your gloves and finally your coat and a hat. You might think putting on a pair of gloves before your coat is odd, but let me tell you something. Try putting on your gloves last and you’ll find there’s a tiny gap between your glove and the cuff of your coat sleeve where snow can get to the skin on your wrist. Except for down your back, the tender skin on the inside of your wrist is possibly the most painful and uncomfortable place on the human body for snow to touch. That’s why you always put on a pair of gloves before putting on your coat; it seals up that gap. All those layers made it nearly impossible to move, but it was worth it. The more layers you wore, the longer it took for the snow to melt through to your body which translated into MORE TIME TO PLAY OUTSIDE!
You’d run out the door and you’d play hard. You’d have so much fun that you wouldn’t notice how cold you were until it was too late. You’d notice it was time to come inside only when your friends started telling you that your lips were blue. THis would cause you to instinctively lick your lips and you might taste blood if they were chapped enough to crack. You’d probably have icicles hanging from your nostrils and you might not be able to feel your toes. Suddenly you would realize you were freezing cold, wet and on the brink of losing a toe or the tip of your nose to frostbite so you’d run home, probably fall a few times along the way, and maybe even start to cry a little because you didn’t want to end up having anything amputated. You’d stand on the front porch and ring the doorbell continuously with your forehead until your mother answered the door, “It’s unlocked, ” she’d say, ” Why didn’t you just come in yourself?” Through chattering teeth you would reply, “Hannnddddsss nnnummmbbb. CCCCouldnnn’ttt oppppennn dddoor.” After peeling off all of your wet layers and discovering that none of your toes had turned black, you’d breathe a sigh of relief. You’d warm up with some hot cocoa and a bowl of soup or if you were really lucky a plate of pastina with butter and parmesan cheese. Then you’d snuggle up under a homemade afghan to read one for your favorite books and before long you’d be asleep because romping around in the snow is exhausting. Now that was the kind of snow day we had when I was a kid.
I remember when my son, Christian saw snow for the first time. Now THAT was snow of blizzard proportions. It was November of 1993. Christian was about two and a half years old and we had just moved to St. Louis from North Carolina. Every self-respecting northerner knows that if you’re going to go outside to play in copious amounts of snow for any significant amount of time and you don’t want to be completely miserable, you have to dress properly (see above). So even though I had spent the last seven years residing in the pleasantly temperate southeastern United States where it rarely snows, our move to a colder climate kicked my Yankee instincts into high-gear. No sooner did we arrive in St. Louis, and I set out to buy Christian a down-filled snow suit (jacket and matching bib overalls) and all the appropriate clothing accessories required for defense against the bounty of elements that a Missouri winter was sure to hurl our way. I was prepared for snow in St. Louis. Unfortunately, Christian was not. In spite of undertaking the requisite layering and bundling him up in two pairs of socks, thermal underwear, sweatpants, a turtle neck and wool sweater, snow boots, hat, mittens, and finally capped it off with that brand spanking new snow suit (old habits die hard), I had neglected to prepare Christian for the inevitable. Playing in the snow makes you cold and wet. It was naive of me to think that his Yankee legacy status would make frolicking in the snow as appealing to Christian as it was to me. I foolishly assumed that being cold and wet would not be a problem; that it was a small price to pay for fun in the snow with mommy. Sadly, I was mistaken. It took me close to 30 minutes to bundle him up and in less time than it takes to make a snow angel, Christian decided snow was not for him. I tried to engage him in building a snowman to no avail. He just shook his head and shouted a defiant two-year old, “NO!” Thinking he’d throw one back, I threw a snowball at him. It only served to make him cry, and that’s when it hit me. My son is a southerner. Wow. I never saw it coming.
Till tomorrow…Good night. Y’all sleep tight.