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Perspective: No more snow days

Aaron Burden

Technology and the pandemic have killed off snow days. I pity upcoming generations who will never experience the anxious wait for an announcement that school has been canceled. There is a luxury in knowing that hours stretch before me, and a special frisson of pleasure in squandering an entire day that should be spent in class.

More than anything, I mourn the loss of an alternative perception of time. In school, the day is divided into segments devoted to distinct subjects, regimenting this daily plod through education. On snow days, these artificial barriers vanish. There are no class periods, no homework, and no instructions to follow. I can go outside and build a snow fort, come in for hot chocolate, and then wallow away the afternoon imagining that on any other day I would be in social studies or spelling, but today I am staring at the ice crystals on our living room window before drawing or playing.

We all need occasional parenthesis in life when the ceaseless drive to productivity magically stops. Unlike a weekend, where the off-time is expected, a snow day is an unanticipated gift of freedom from a set routine. Surprising, delicious, and fleeting, snow days are precious because they are rare. I mourn their passing because now we have lost the joy and beauty of this unique suspension of time.

I'm Frances Jaeger, and that is my Perspective.

Frances Jaeger is an associate professor of Spanish at Northern Illinois University. Her research interests include Latin American contemporary poetry as well as Caribbean and Central American literature.