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What Better Thing is there to Do on A Snow Day?
“Snow day?” Mom questioned aloud that brisk December day. After my brothers, sister and I had prepared another school day and bundled up for the snow, Mom drove us the twenty minute drive to Brenan Academy. Brenan Academy, home to the most sheltered kids on the planet, was an elementary and middle school created for those young children showing academic, athletic and moral excellence. Well, at least that’s what the mission statement said on the office wall.
Anyways, half asleep, we kids in the backseat of our two door Sierra truck perked up as Mom addressed the equally baffled mother in the only other car in the parking lot. Apparently, Brenan was issued a snow day even though there was no snow on the road, but hey, I wasn’t arguing. See, Brenan Academy was almost equivalent to military school. Rain, shine, or tornado there was always school. I repeat, always.
“Looks like you kids could have slept in,” Mom commented rolling up her window and cranking up the heat in the truck.
“Woo hoo!” Yelled my fourth grade brother, Joe, followed by a sing-songy version of, “no school, no school, no school!” Peter, my second grade brother, joined in until they were so loud my ears ached.
“Please boys!” Emily, the mature eighth grade sister, yelled over them. “We are in a confined area!” Now, Emily told my brothers and me this nearly every day after school when we were riled up from the days events. She can be prone to chronic grumpiness, but today she said her signature statement with a smile. Pretty soon, even she joined in on the singing.
“I’m hungry,” I called during a lull.
“Eat your lunch,” Mom suggested with a shrug. I reached into my backpack and pulled out my lunch pail, the others following suit. Peter, who was sitting in the front seat, turned to the back and yelled, “Lunch at eight in the morning! Who would have thought?” Everyone glanced at each other’s faces and then simultaneously broke out into uncontrollable laughter. No one knew what was so funny about eating out lunches so early in the morning, but that statement sparked the fire of laughter in out tummies and had us giggling until we were giddy with excitement.
“You guys need to burn off some of that energy,” Mom commented chuckling along with us. She pulled into the gravel parking lot of our small planter church. “Grandma is supposed to clean the church today. What do you say we spend some of our day off doing it for her?” Mom suggested and turned to glance at each of us. I frowned at the idea, as did my siblings. Considering how many days off we got during the school year were so few, I wanted to fall back into my bed and sleep until the next day. “Come on, if we work together, this should only take about an hour!” Mom opened her door and walked into the church, waving us to follow. Joe was the first to move. “What better thing is there to do on a snow day?” He whispered sarcastically, but followed.
I was unhappy to be cleaning on my day away from school, even if it was for my grandma and our church. I mopped the bathroom floor, cleaned the toilets, and washed out the sink. Next, I vacuumed the hall. Joe and I pretended the vacuum handle was a microphone and sang Christmas songs in Chipmunk voices.
Within an hour, the whole church was spotless. I was still upset that we had to clean in the first place, but having accomplished the job created a small sense of satisfaction. We all piled back into out truck.
“Let’s go surprise Grandma with some donuts,” Mom said and pulled into our most favorite donut shop of the tiny secure world we knew. Mom ordered a huge box of donuts, making sure to include lots of Grandma’s favorites. “Here we go!” She said happily and handed the box to Peter, warning him not to eat any.
A few minutes later, I called into Grandma’s warm house. “Grandma, are you awake?” I breathed deeply. Coming into Grandma’s house felt like walking into a safe haven, it felt like walking into home.
“Hello?” I heard her say from the top of the stairs.
“Surprise!” I yelled along with my siblings, who had joined me with the donuts. Grandma looked tired, but grinned madly through her confusion.
After greeting all of us with a big bear hug, she asked, “What is this?” Referring to our presence and the donuts.
“We have a snow day today, Grandma!” Peter exclaimed. Grandma laughed and pinched his red, chubby cheeks.
“You did?” She asked, like always and told us to sit at the familiar kitchen table.
“And we cleaned the church for you,” Emily reported.
“Hey!” Joe yelled and elbowed her in the side, “I wanted to tell her.” Mom laughed and we all waited to hear Grandma’s low chuckle, but we didn’t hear anything. Glancing down the table, I saw Grandma smiling through her tears.
“You did?” She asked, like always. We kids nodded, slightly nervous at Grandma’s emotional state, but Mom rested her hand on Grandma’s.
“We sure did,” she reassured her. Mom, noting our confusion from Grandma’s tears, quickly said, “Donuts anyone?” And pretty soon, everything was back to normal. Joe and Peter began to make everyone laugh. Emily tried in vain not to smile, knowing she was too old to laugh at such childish jokes. While I sat back and took in the whole scene, my family.
I later asked my mom why Grandma had cried at the kitchen table. Her answer was a simple, “Because you spent your day off to fill a need for her.” So maybe cleaning the church for Grandma wasn’t such a bad thing in the end. After all, “what better thing is there to do with a snow day?”