Friday, December 13, 2013

Icy days bring appreciation for routine

From today's Briefing:

Wednesday night, Dec. 4. Forecast grim.
The kids and I typically don’t run errands after dark on a school night, but tonight we make an exception. Friends had been texting weather warnings throughout the day, with the most dire prediction of them all: “Entombed in ice.”
We shop at the least busy grocery store on our side of town, buying essentials and firewood — enough to last us at least through Sunday.
Thursday afternoon. Sleet begins to fall.
We go through the typical Thursday night motions — pack backpacks for the next day, study for spelling — with an eye on increasingly gray skies and slick roads.
We settle in to watch The Sound of Music Live. All three of us sing along and blurt out disagreements with staging choices. I keep an eye on social media. At 8:38 p.m., it’s official. No school Friday.
Katie cries herself to sleep, despondent over missing school.
Friday morning.
After a night of the loudest ice in the history of the world falling, we are jolly. We bake cinnamon rolls and watch a little TV.
We are lazy. Pajamas until 11 a.m. I cook lentil soup, and my people rave.
Cooper and Katie bundle up and head outdoors for neighborhood adventures, including sledding on the greenbelt. They return to mugs of hot cocoa and the first of many fires in the fireplace.
I read aloud from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. (Mostly for Katie — it’s new to her — but Cooper loves to listen.)
We watch some Christmas specials. We unanimously agree that the 2001 version ofRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys is unbearable.
By the end of the night, I realize that my children have watched more commercials in the past 24 hours than perhaps the past 24 months.
Saturday morning. Our sidewalk and street are still sheets of ice.
Katie’s violin teacher texts me to remind me of the morning group lesson. There’s no way I’m driving, but Katie is willing to walk, and Cooper is willing to take her. It’s one-half mile from home. They bundle up and head out.
I take a nap. Being home for so long is exhausting, apparently.
With newfound energy, I grade papers. I wrap every gift in the house.
Icy slopes beckon, and the kids return for more sledding. They come home cold and pink-cheeked. Time to start another fire, though I’m starting to worry about the dwindling firewood supply.
Our senior pastor emails with news that Sunday services are canceled. Katie sheds tears and wails, “But it’s Advent!”
Then we receive news that the Sunday violin recital is delayed. Tears are stymied by the promise of a rescheduled date.
Sunday morning. Still icy.
We are still lazy. I haven’t fixed my hair or applied makeup since Thursday.
We are still jolly, though a smidge less than the days before. Arguments are more likely. Forgiveness takes longer.
Katie is reading a book on British royalty. “Did you know that King Henry the Eighth had six wives?” she says. “And that he had two beheaded? All because the wives were sleeping with other men?”
She is 8 and believes that sleeping is literally just sleeping. I’m too tired to explain more. I just nod.
Cooper is whistling. He’s been whistling off and on since Thursday night. “Can you please stop whistling?” I plead. He doesn’t even argue.
My jolliness has dipped considerably. I attempt to remedy the situation with homemade pumpkin chocolate chip bread. We’re out of vegetable oil, and I substitute melted butter. My people rave.
News breaks that school is canceled for Monday. No tears this time, but drawn faces all around. We need to get out.
We go to bed without a drop of hot cocoa or hint of fire. I’m conserving supplies for both. We also leave the television off. No one even asked.
Monday morning. Cold. Ice. Again.
I’m rationing milk and fresh fruit. There are three logs left. By lunchtime they are ash.
We polish off the lentil soup. And the last of the hot cocoa. There’s a chunk of pumpkin bread left. It’s destined for Tuesday breakfast, along with the little bit of pineapple at the back of the fridge.
Dinner relies on pantry and freezer staples.
At 5:56 p.m., the news is official: School resumes Tuesday. Lazy days are over. All three of us are jolly.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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