After living in Los Angeles for a number of years, I’m somewhat in awe of those who have never lived through a bona-fide “snow day”. Even now just thinking about shoveling snow makes my shoulder ache. It’s taken years for me to thaw out. I’m only now prepared to finally share my recipe for surviving a Chicago Snow Day in hopes it may help you, should you find yourself in a similar situation this season.

If an inappropriate amount of snow is heading in your direction some time soon, here’s what I suggest to do that day:

  1. Get up around 5am and start digging out your car, ESPECIALLY if you have to park on the street, and even if it’s still coming down by the tonnage. GET MOVING. Otherwise your car will become an igloo very quickly and you won’t be able to access it for 4 to 6 weeks. Trust me. I’ve lived it.
  2. While digging out your designated space on the street, you’ll simultaneously find yourself helping at least 2 to 3 of your neighbors doing the very same. These alliances will prove both fun and beneficial over the coming winter months. Look at as a communal experience, because it is. In fact, without even asking, these folks will ultimately defend your space when you’re not there, and vice-versa, should some hapless out-of-towner who doesn’t know any better attempt to park in your spot in the weeks to come. It’s just not done and considered a mortal sin in Chicago to even attempt to park in someone else’s “designated space”. Ignoring the various array of cock-eyed lawn furniture and ironing boards littering the many hard-won parking locations carved along the street is akin to steal a man’s horse in days of old. This is Chicago. It’s common knowledge: Don’t mess with someone’s snow day parking spot. I don’t know what the repercussions are, but I don’t want to find out.
  3. Help push 8 to 10 cars down the street. The intermittent snowball fights with various passers-by are to be expected, but so is joining a random crew of strangers to assist the people crazy enough to think they’re going somewhere today. They’re not, they just don’t know it yet. And, yes, you’ll lose a glove or a pair of earmuffs or glasses or what have you. We get it. Repeating, “I can’t find my (fill in item here)” won’t bring it back. It’s gone now. Let it go. You’re made of greater stuff. You’re a Chicagoan now. Even by default. Suck it up.
  4. It’s now about 9am, it may seem like it’s 3 in the afternoon, but time flies when… Forget I said that. You’re soaked to the skin, your hands and face are numb with cold, you ache in places you didn’t know you had, and you’ve ripped your pants/gloves/coat/Achilles tendon/again, fill in blank later if you’re presently unsure. Head inside and take a long hot shower. Or sit there and shiver. Its up to you.
  5. Once clean, begin carbo-loading. Let’s face it you’re not going anywhere today and neither is anyone else. My personal preference is French toast, but pancakes do the trick, too. You earned it. Dig in. Get fancy, if you’re so inclined. Make a mess. Who cares? Days like this are made for food like this.
  6. It’s now about 11am – 11:30am. May as well get comfortable. You can only watch The Weather Channel, or look out the window umpteen times before that gets old. I suggest you turn on “The Godfather”. Trust me, this should be a snow day staple, because by the time Michael Corleone closes the door on Kay and assumes his rightful position as head of “the family”, it’ll be time for lunch. By that time, you’re going to want pizza or lasagna, or something Italian. (Note to self: stock the pantry well in advance next time for just such occasions. You should have these items on hand at all times during the winter months, for God sake. Where do you live?)
  7. It’s now about 2pm in the afternoon. You know the drill: Check the car, clean it off again if you must, check your neighbors’ lawn furniture-littered parking spaces and defend them if necessary. Comes with the territory. Then head back inside and resume your position on the couch. Bring a snack or two until the pizza comes, or you burn the grilled cheese, and put on “The Godfather II”. This is only just getting good.
  8. It’s now 6pm-ish, and you suddenly realize… you need beer. Walk to your local Mom & Pop (convenience store). Pick up milk, whether you need it or not, and clean them out of as much beer as you can carry and/or afford.
  9. Lastly, depending on your age, I suggest you hold off on that late night snowball fight, until after you assess how much damage you actually inflicted on your body earlier today. You may have a couple days of this business yet to come. Stick with beer for now, and maybe invite a neighbor or two over for cards. Your body will thank you later.

Viola! You’ve survived a proper Snow Day. Nice going. Try and sleep in tomorrow, if you can get away with it. Of course, you may need to ‘rinse and repeat’. I heard they’re calling for more snow tonight.

Good thing you have a copy of “The Conversation“. I love that movie. And thank goodness for Francis Ford Coppola. His stuff was made for snow days. Frankly, if it keeps snowing like this, I suggest you break out the Tarantino. You could do a whole lot worse.

Look at it this way: LA doesn’t have the luxury of these impromptu ‘stay-cations’. Make the most of it! Summer’s coming. Some day. (Go, Cubbies!) 


Copyright © 2018 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved