The world in wintertime (at least where it snows) is a different place. Here in rural Pennsylvania, a distinct, sulfuric musk — a most nostalgic and comforting scent — wafts through my little hometown, lending an antiquated charm that reminds us of bygone days when coal was king (and proves it’s still very much in the royal family in these parts).

While the natural world dies, hibernates, and goes dormant, our human spirits are rejuvenated. When the temperature drops, there’s a communal mood change, the effects of which tend to be a contagious energy and a...

The world in wintertime (at least where it snows) is a different place. Here in rural Pennsylvania, a distinct, sulfuric musk — a most nostalgic and comforting scent — wafts through my little hometown, lending an antiquated charm that reminds us of bygone days when coal was king (and proves it’s still very much in the royal family in these parts).

While the natural world dies, hibernates, and goes dormant, our human spirits are rejuvenated. When the temperature drops, there’s a communal mood change, the effects of which tend to be a contagious energy and a marked softening of mankind. People let down their guards, exchanging prank gifts at office Christmas parties while wearing elf ears and silly, ugly sweaters bedecked with jingle bells. Grown-ass men adorn their jacked-up, super-duty pickup trucks with red noses and reindeer ears. People young and old are tickled by toy snowmen that sing and dance at the touch of a button.

A fresh sprinkling of clean, pure snow is often enough to conceal even our most dilapidated Appalachian blight under a blanket that’s bright and white and cheering. Townsfolk come together in a spirit of giving to raise money for charities through lighthearted events, to buy and sell baked goods, share meals together, hand out presents, and be generally jolly. We kinda cut each other some slack, relaxing deadlines, lending more understanding than usual, because “It’s the holidays!” We festoon our houses with festive lights and merry scenery that sparkle and wink and say to neighbors and strangers alike who pass by, “It’s Jesus’ birthday, and we’re ready to party!” God gets in on the decorating, too, glittering the ground and the trees and the squirrels with a dusting of diamonds.

The very act of bundling up to venture outside makes even the most mundane errands feel like an arctic adventure. Between the other souls you encounter whilst bustling about in the real-life snow globe, there is born an unspoken bond acknowledged only through furtive glances glowing from under knit caps and by secret smiles concealed by snug scarves. Ah! you think to yourself. A fellow being braving this treacherous weather on a daring quest to replenish the milk and egg (and beer) supply!

This season gives us special occasions, traditions, and extreme, harsh beauty contrasted with maximum coziness. It also gives us the chance to embrace our inner kid. “For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself,” writes Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol. It’s true that no other time can compare to the magic of the Christmas season, and that’s because the best parts of “the most wonderful time of the year” share one common theme: childhood.

And while all the wintertide phenomena described above (minus the beer) represent the best of being a kid — not taking yourself too seriously, actually looking forward to and getting excited about stuff, remembering how to have fun, wonderment, etc. — nothing compares to the glory that is (or sadly, was) an old-fashioned, splendorous snow day: the preeminent childhood experience.

Do any grownups recall the absolute elation brought on by those three little words, “School is cancelled”? My heart would surge with excited relief that compares to nothing in the adult world. A tax refund check, maybe? Holy mackerel, how lame! “Go back to sleep,” my mama would say, and I’d snuggle down and drift off contentedly, awakening a little while later to the smell of hot coffee and a warm, filling breakfast of bacon, buttermilk pancakes, plenty of butter, and real maple syrup waiting downstairs.

Then it was time to perform a mini archaeological dig in the big hallway closet for a pair of mittens that matched, and out into the tundra we went for an afternoon romp in the snow, returning hours later to thaw out with some cocoa by the woodstove, leaving our snow-crusted mittens to melt on the radiator. That night, we’d crawl under a heavy pile of quilts for the safest, soundest, most satisfying night’s sleep ever.

Sigh. Such a day is the stuff of daydreams now and an unlikely gift for non-kids. Even contemporary school students are expected to work remotely nowadays, and such a thing as a carefree “day off” in this fast-forward world is unheard of. Nonetheless, I believe a national snow day would do wonders for our society. The surprise arrival of Old Man Winter and all his effects granting us freedom from anxiety about disease from the Far East and the Far Left, the luxury of sleeping in late, and the chance to appreciate God’s glittering masterpiece, guilt-free…imagine!

With global warming’s ongoing identity crisis (it’s 63 in PA in late December!), and the inescapable demands of the technocracy to keep up, a real snow day is not likely for “kids from one to ninety-two.” Let’s strive, then, to make a point of taking a mental snow day from time to time by honoring the kid inside all of us. Remember to be playful, find enchantment in simple things, and totally immerse yourself in the rare, precious days when they wondrously appear.