Southern Snow Rituals

We have a strange ritual in the South when snow is approaching. Those from outside our region will never understand our need for milk and bread in the face of a winter storm. It is not high on anyone else’s storm preparation list like it is on ours.

My theory is that it stems from PTSD, (Post Traumatic Snow Disorder). Previous winter storms, in which we were stranded at home for weeks without power or a way to get to the store, have caused us to overcompensate. I wrote about one such time here. We have flashbacks to eating cold beanie weenies out of a can and drinking water from our plugged-up bathtubs. For weeks. We have night terrors about sleeping in front of the fireplace, for those of us who have them, and scrounging up firewood from the yard when our small stack ran out prematurely. The sound of trees breaking under the weight of ice, cars smashing into things, and transformers blowing up haunts our minds. Like anyone who rides out a big storm, hurricane, or tornado, we are simply trying to avoid a repeat of those traumatic times.

Milk and bread are the comfort foods of the winter storm Southerners. You can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with bread or toast it over the fire, or just eat it “raw.” And everyone, in every region knows if you have peanut butter sandwiches you have to have milk. Plus, if it does actually snow, which is a rarity, with milk you can make snow cream!  It’s the best!

I realize there are other foods that might be more appropriate for survival, but we don’t really know what those are because at the mention of snow, we lose our minds. All common sense flies out the window. Think of it this way, if the snow prediction radar doesn’t have the lovely blue color over our area, we get in the car and drive into the storm to where it is located! We run INTO the storm, just to try to get to SEE snow. I know, it’s crazy, but it’s our tradition. Our ritual. AND we all know it’s crazy, but we do it anyway. Get on ice covered roads and attempt to drive to snow so we can build a snowman or have a snowball fight. Outrageous? Outrageously fun! Most of the time.

One time, Mom and Dad drove to our mountain house because a storm was coming. They got snowed in. They were so excited, because when you run into snow the whole goal is to get snowed in. Besides, they had milk and bread so what could go wrong?  I’ll tell you what. A tree fell across the driveway which they thought was no problem, they had parked at the bottom of the hill. However, the road was iced over and they couldn’t get out. The milk and bread ran out. They only had part of a left-over sheet cake from a birthday party the week before. They ate cake, for every meal while they waited for someone to come clear the roads, and get the power on. They decided maybe this time they got more than they bargained for.

I think it is our inexperience that gets us in trouble. Like a new hiker going on a long hike without the proper clothing or the right amount of water. We learn the hard way in the South, and sometimes we don’t learn at all. We are a stubborn lot. The best you can hope for is that once we empty the shelves at the grocery store, we go home and enjoy the storm from the comfort of our homes…if the storm actually brings enough white stuff to make a snowman taller than a ruler and the power stays on.

In the meantime, during the anticipation of the wait, please leave off the bread and milk jokes. We know. We’ve probably heard them all. We laugh at them…on the way to the store to buy our bread and milk. Just remember what it felt like when there was a toilet paper shortage…same thing. Ridiculous? Yes. But, did you buy it when you found some? Also, yes. You can make fun of us, but I bet at the same time you might just be us. Certainly, transplanted folks can learn to enjoy snow in the South.

There is nothing more fun than watching those who hardly ever see snow, get out and play in it. The laughs of the children. The moms and dads who are having as much fun as the kids. The trash can lids, boxes, and cookie sheets used as sleds. The layers and layers of clothes. The 3 pairs of socks and newspaper stuffed into tennis shoes. The pickup trucks pulling kids on tires behind them. Everything, in every way, done with gusto. We may be unprepared for snow, but no one loves it more than us.

We are complicated group. We suffer from PTSD, on one hand, and LOVE of snow on the other. It makes us hard to understand for those looking from the outside in. But once you get to know us, you will see it all makes perfect sense…to us.

4 thoughts on “Southern Snow Rituals

  1. Chuckled through this! You are such a great writer and this is so funny and true! May you and all your loved ones stay warm and safe!

  2. Yes and my memory of my first snowman is cherished. Daddy helped me even though we only had a thin blanket of snow – so that the snowman was full of grass and pine needles – but that was the most wonderful snowman of my life!

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