george hancockstefanIt started during the night and continued the whole day.  This time the weatherman was right.  We got lots of snow.  It was beautiful in the trees, on fences, and on roofs of houses. The snow blowers started to work early in the morning and the comment of “we had enough snow this winter” was echoed by so many people.

In spite of the snow, people who had appointments still came to see me, even though later on we had to cancel the church’s evening activities. In the office, we functioned as if nothing has happened on the outside.  We kept the same hours and at the end of the day we felt that we have accomplished so much.  We were able to call all the people that we needed to call, we sent all the emails that we intended to send, and because the post office was open we even walked the few blocks and sent our mail.

I am one of those people who like the summer heat and enjoy the winter’s cold. I love August and when I lived and worked in Italy I have experienced why Italians during Ferro Augusto leave their homes en masse and take their vacations.  Working in August was left to the few because the heat was almost unbearable.

I react in the same way with the winter.  When I hear that there will be 7-8 inches of snow, I envision my childhood when the snow kept falling for days. The long East European winters kept most of the farmers inside.  There were very few things that one could do on the farm in the winter.  The winter season relaxed and rested the farming community and enabled them to spend a great amount of time with the family  - reconnecting, telling family stories, repeating those stories of bravery from World War I and World War II that the children have heard a hundred times. It is in those times that we found out who the fourth and fifth generation relatives were and how our family got where we were then.

Yesterday, we were snowed in, but we were still connected in so many ways. The TV was humming, it seems that everyone was on a computer or phone, and in the late hour I connected with one of my kids to watch the current story of the Vikings on the History Chanel (which must be in some financial slump, because it now plays the same commercials every 3-5 minutes).

My childhood was so different than the childhood of my children and my grandchildren.  Even when we are snowed in, now we are connected with the entire world. My grandson is a digital native and my daughter has to give him time restrictions, otherwise, he will always be on his computer.  His world is so different than mine.  Sixty years ago when I was his age, we did not have electricity in our village, we had one phone in the post office, there was no TV, and a few people had battery radios.  The kerosene lamps were the main lights in the house and a wood stove heated two bedrooms.  In this situation what we had was one another, the ability to become story tellers, and the opportunity to read all the books that we could find.

Yet, I remember that we looked forward to those days when we were snowed in because in our cramped rooms, we learned what it means to be with one another, to love one another, and we learned the meaning of a tight family. Almost 15 years later we lived in Detroit. One time at church, I heard someone say, “Watch out for those Stefan kids – they are tight!” Indeed we were tight with one another and we were tight with our parents.  Even today when I visit my sisters on the West Coast, it is natural for us to sit in the kitchen for 2-3 days and do nothing but talk to one another and enjoy being with one another. And I think that it all started in those snowy days, when there was nothing to do except be with one another.