Oh the sweet, sweet bliss of a snow day.

School children and teachers across the state had their eyes trained on the sky and their hopes pinned on the forecast, waiting until that most magical of announcements came through: no school due to snow.

And on a Friday, no less.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

By the time you read this, that particular snow day will be but a memory, but a good one. And I know, there are some folks out there who see the downside; another missed day, meetings that must be rescheduled, school lunches that go wanting. They’re not wrong. However, given that we mere mortals are not actually in control of the weather, we may as well make the most of it.

Here at my house, snow days are slow days. Everything downshifts. The woodstove gets called into action, cocoa and popcorn get put on the menu and board games take over the tables. Paths must be shoveled, sure, but other chores can just sit down and take the day off.

There is a magical quality to the snow day that should not be sullied by the mundane.

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I have long maintained that snow days are good for the soul and necessary for our overall well-being. Turns out, others agree with me.

One article, published in Real Simple magazine (which I admit is not exactly Psychology Today), lists “6 Ways a Snow Day is Good for Your Mental Health.” The list includes the mental and physical benefits of outside winter exercise, curling up with a good book, extra sleep, having fun, enjoying a home cooked meal (that one feels like a stretch) and an enforced break.

The last one I mentioned, about the enforced (and unexpected) break, is the one which speaks most clearly to me.

I don’t know about you, but I am often too productive during my weekends and scheduled days off. I take care of chores around the house, I tie up loose ends, I tackle projects. Lots of kids (and their parents) are scheduled to the eyeballs with sports, clubs and activities they’ve signed up for.

Even vacations are often put into service and used as concentrated stretches of time to do the big lifts. For example, I spent my summer recategorizing and relabeling literally thousands of books because that was when I had the available time in which to do it. Which is great, but not a break.

The thing is, we humans need breaks. Our bodies and our brains require a little time off to relax, recharge and restore. It is what enables us to stay strong and approach problems with clarity and creativity. And an unscheduled, unplanned break arrives as a magical gift, a thing to treasure.

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For a moment there during the pandemic, while we were all deep in the throes of online everything, there was talk of eliminating snow days for schools. After all, we had just proven on the daily that school could, in a pinch, be done screen to screen, so why not maximize the learning days? I am so glad that wiser, more reasoned thoughts prevailed.

Kids need snow days. Teachers do too. An opinion column in the The Baltimore Sun, “In Defense of Snow Days,” reinforces my beliefs, but we don’t need to take their word for it. Just reflect.

Remember back to your own school days and how it felt to hear there was no school that day, then go for a walk, break out the skis, take a nap, read a book, just sit and think a quiet thought or two and then notice how much better you feel, inside and out.

Thank the heavens – and the cold fronts – for the glorious, magical, restorative gift of the snow day.

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