We are having a snow day here in Charleston. It is not so much a ‘snow day’ as it is an ‘ice day’-hours of freezing rain that those of us living south of the Mason-Dixon are just not prepared for. We do not have salt or sand or plows at the ready. We just shut the town down and stay home. End of story.
It is on these rare snow days that I find I am most like my father. My memories and instinct take over and before I know it I am standing in my kitchen smiling.
Snow days growing up in CT were full of snow and my father relished them. He was a man of few words and he worked constantly so the break in the tedium and monotony was welcome I am sure.
After the hours of shoveling that had to be done my father would come in and the magic would begin.
My father loved movies and TV, and so we always had the newest gadgets, the first VCR (Betamax anyone?), the early cable systems. On a snow day all bets were off-rules went to the dogs, we were buckling down for the day and watching TV. Old movies, cheesy sci-fi series-no genre was off limits. I can remember watching Poseidon Adventure with Shelley Winters cross-legged on my parents orange shag rug, bowl of popcorn (made with one of the very first air poppers and doused with butter) and my father on the couch behind me. I was hooked on Dr. Who and his mysteries and adventures. Likewise Planet of the Apes-we watched episode after episode. To see them now in comparison to the graphics and effects that have evolved, they seem so campy, but then then they were ah-mazing! We used to get horrible bootleg copies of movies, clearly videotaped with a shaky video camera on someone’s lap until the rental trend took off, and by then, we were hooked. (My father went on to buy a video store).
But, back to the snow days…
True to form on the few snow days I have had here in SC, my boys and I fight for the coziest blanket, curl up on the same couch and pick which movies we will watch for the day. We all stay in our pajamas, and they don’t fight or bicker one bit. It is magical indeed.
Now, I know what you are thinking now. That’s it? A movie day? That is your big father daughter moment?
No, of course not. As any good memory often is, this one is also tied to food. As you can imagine with three kids, shortly after the movie starting we would all realize we were hungry.
So my father would cook. No culinary masterpieces, mind you, though he has since evolved to quite the cook and is often found on his days off in the kitchen cooking just for the fun of it He made us the snacks and lunches that are now etched in my heart as my comfort foods. They are the foods that bring me back to that safe place, those cold days, and those warm memories in my mind.
Cheese and crackers. Not just any cheese and crackers. Premium Saltines with sharp cheddar cheese, a dusting of paprika and a sprinkle of garlic salt.
Kraft mac and cheese with hot dogs-cut up and mixed in.
Lipton giggle noodle soup or Campbell’s double noodle.
Pancakes with Mrs. Butterwerfs (that is how my brother pronounced it) only we couldn’t afford the real one, so my father melted butter for us and put it in a dish of syrup and made it for us.
Wonderbread with cheese toasted under the broiler.
Pigs in blankets.
There are so many others, but I think the point is made. My father created for us a tradition, our own little holiday, and it had nothing to do with stores or gifts or spending a ton of money. Today is our ‘snow day’ and like a true creature of habit I hit the couch and found a movie to watch with my boys. When it was over I wandered into the kitchen and without hesitation, fixed ‘toasty cheese’-the nickname it has since been given. There is no Wonderbread in our house, and I must say it does not taste the same on hearty whole grain, but it is still ooey gooey and delicious. On the stove I had chicken noodle soup simmering-double noodle naturally. I sat at the table and smiled. Snow days, will forever be a holiday in my mind.