New York City just received its first snow storm for the year 2017, and the first significant snow accumulation of the 2016-17 winter session. Public school students and staff were happy (for the most part) to get the news the night before that schools would be closed; most parochial, private and charter schools followed suit. (One of the larger groups of charter schools did not close, and had terrible attendance.) Many other adults chose not to go to work, and some stayed home to do work there.

My family of four stayed home, and my daughters did not even change out of their pajamas, choosing to sleep late, do their homework, and spend time sketching pictures (younger girl) and practicing guitar (older girl). I am the Queen and Master of Snow Shovel Duty in our home, and I ventured outside to do this twice. And not only for our house but also for two elderly families on our block. I enjoy shoveling snow and have since I was a teenager (my brother and I used to make some nice cash by going door-to-door and shoveling for neighbors). I felt pretty good physically although my back is somewhat sore from the effort.

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New Yorkers have different reactions to snow, especially if a Snow Day has been called. For many it is an opportunity to get extra sleep; peer out the windows to look at the pure white puffy stuff; a chance to hear less traffic rattling and honking by along the street. For other people it is a burden, a catalyst for anxiety and even anger. Others see it as a chance to make some money (see my mini-anecdote above).


There were a few distressing snow-related stories that I came across. An apartment building doorman in Manhattan died when he was shoveling snow and fell through a glass door. Some people got into bad traffic accidents. And a few cars in Brooklyn's Borough Park neighborhood, a heavily Chasidic region, were marred by swastikas drawn in the snow accumulation. 

I was particularly unnerved by this incident because the cars were on a street with which I am familiar; I teach a one-on-one exercise class to a woman who lives on that block. And it is no secret that anti-Semitic acts of vandalism and threats (such as bomb threats called into Jewish Community Centers) have increased in recent months. We have no way (at this point) to know if the perpetrators of the snow-swastikas were organized neo-Nazis or just obnoxious people with a mean streak based upon opportunity. I suspect the latter but still, this is unacceptable behavior.

This certainly put a pall on my appreciation of this snow day because for the most part, it was mildly fun for my family. The four of us hung out at home on a Thursday which would ordinarily be a typical hectic weekday. I have fond memories from childhood and onward of restful, fun snow days. My daughters used to like to go in the driveway and make snow angels. One year I got the idea to give the kids water guns with food coloring mixed in the water, and they decorated the snow on our front lawn. Now they are teens and don't want to bother with this, shucks!

I mentioned to the girls that Tu B'Shvat is days away; it always seems quirky if there is a great deal of snow just prior to this Arbor Day celebration.

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