Last week I put a spoon under my pillow and turned my PJs inside out. It worked! I woke up to a Snow Day, an official day to toss out the To-Do list and play. The thought of a Snow Day holds as much allure to me as it does to school-aged kids. At 50-years-old and counting, one might think I’m a bit old to buy into the giddy excitement of a Snow Day, but I am not. I long for permission to have a socially sanctioned play day; a day when, without guilt, I can turn on the television, pull out a sled, heat up some hot chocolate, read a gossip magazine, curl up in front of the fireplace, or nap. Snow days grant permission to focus on activities with no economic significance. Activities carried out on Snow Days aren’t expected to win praise or recognition. Snow Days narrow our focus to playtime activities, and these playtime activities are vital to our happiness.
Perhaps I learned the value of Snow Days the hard way. Five years ago my son became ill. Throughout his life threatening illness, our focus on play took on exaggerated proportion. So often, during his illness, the activities that filled my days were judged as unworthy in modern society, a society that endorses daily activity focused on economic generation, praise, and recognition.
We earned no awards when we watched the television show Scrubs until we had memorized the script. I received no promotion for levels achieved on the video games. No bonus was awarded for hours spent checking up on friends via social media. No line on my resume was created as I participated in my guilty pleasure (I read gossip magazines. ) Throughout this medically induced playtime, I still needed to fulfill my job duties and meet family and social obligations. Yet my primary focus shifted from ‘more, better, faster’ to balance. With everything that needed to be done as a caregiver, provider, professional and parent, the most important activity on my To-Do list was to play. It was the time I spent on play that brought me my greatest happiness.
When faced with the possible death of my child, and two years later when faced with my own mortality, what I longed for was more play time with loved ones. On my deathbed my life didn’t pass by my eyes. I didn’t wish for another day so that I could make more money, earn more praise, or be recognized for a professional accomplishment. I didn’t wish that I had another day to get more or to have more. The reason I wanted another day, when death was imminent, was that I wanted more time to play. I fought to stay alive for more Snow Days.
How about you? How would you spend a Snow Day? What place does play hold in your life? What brings happiness to your life?