Snowstorms force families to do what work, school and extracurricular activities often cause us to neglect. Storms make us come together.
They put us under one roof, and tell us in no uncertain terms, that we will interact with one another, that we will depend on one another, and if we are lucky, we will love one another, too.
Storms, in many ways, force us to reveal who we really are, not only to ourselves, but also to each other. They have the ability to take away every artificial crutch we’ve learned to lean on, and they force us back to the things that make us human.
When a storm knocks out power and leaves us without light, we look to one another for guidance.
When a storm disables the heating system and leaves us in the cold, we huddle together for warmth.
When a storm leaves us stationary and trapped in a dangerous position, we find safety in numbers.
A uniting force
But storms aren’t always tragedies. Sometimes they’re simply pauses that make us stop and look at the people with whom we’ve chosen to spend our lives. And in that moment of stillness, we can actually see the good that’s all around us.
That’s what happened this week, when a snowstorm blew through Philadelphia and made me do something I rarely do: It made me stop working.
For one brief moment, I simply opened my eyes and looked at my family. What I saw made me smile at first. Then it made me laugh out loud.
It started with my wife, LaVeta, whose storm preparation wasn’t about salt or shovels. No, her storm preparation was about cookies.
While others were dashing to the supermarket to fight for the last carton of eggs, my wife was ransacking the baking aisle in search of bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate morsels, and walnuts. Once she found them, she was ready, and so were we.
The sweet smell of snow day
The next day, when we awakened to the winter wonderland that blanketed our little world in white, LaVeta was in the kitchen mixing her ingredients.
An hour later, after she pulsed the walnuts and rolled the flour, our home was filled with the aroma of chocolate chip cookies. A black and white movie was flickering on the television screen. Everything was right with the world.
I managed to doze off, something I never do during the day, and when I awakened, I made myself a bowl of soup and prepared to hunker down for the remainder of the afternoon.
That’s when my 9-year-old son, Solomon, informed me of his plans. He wanted to go sledding. There was just one thing. He didn’t have a sled.
“It’s okay, Dad,” he told me. “I can just roll down the hill.”
The stuff of legends
Somehow, I managed to convince my daughter, Eve, to accompany us to Solomon’s school, a building that is surrounded by hills. At 12, Eve is way too cool for this kind of activity. But she went nonetheless, and it was a good thing she did, because the sledding wouldn’t have worked without her.
Their first two or three times down the hill, they rolled. But then they decided to try to slide on their stomachs. Eve’s jacket allowed her to slide much more easily that Solomon, so they decided to work together. Eve became Solomon’s sled. She’d lie down on her stomach, he would sit on her back, and the two of them would slide down the hill.
The whole thing was so hilarious I decided to record it on my phone. It was especially funny when another family came with actual sleds. Their children flew down the hills while my kids inched along, laughing uproariously at their makeshift invention.
It was one of my proudest moments as a father.
It showed me that my children know how to endure a storm together.
It showed me that they know how to manage when things are less than ideal.
It showed me, most of all, that they know how to love one another, even in the aftermath of life’s storms.