As I write this week's column the list of schools that have canceled or are operating on a two-hour delay are scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen.

A light dusting covers the ground and there is a mixture of rain, sleet and freezing rain slated for later in the day.

Winter begins.

Unofficially of course, but with the frigid temperatures and chilly precipitation, it's here.

As I looked at the screen to check the status of schools in my area, I chuckled to myself as I thought about the kids who woke up this morning only to find out that they had that two-hour a delay or a snow day.

A two-hour delay meant that they could crawl back into bed and sleep some more; but ahhh, the snow day.

I can picture the looks on their faces when their mothers gave them the good news and the resounding "yesssssssssss" that simultaneously echoed throughout all of the closed school districts.

I can see some of the younger ones doing the Snoopy dance in their bedrooms.

I was jealous.

I grew up in Bucks County and we didn't typically get as much snow as we do up here in the coal region.

Snow days were coveted like the "holy grail" and word that one was in effect was as if someone showered me with diamonds and chocolate chip cookies while a chorus of angels sang in the back ground.

It just didn't get much better than that.

A snow day meant that I could stay in my jammies a little longer and perhaps even continue to wear them under my clothes when I went to play outside.

Being outside on a snow day meant snowball fights, snow angels and sledding or riding the toboggan.

As fun as those things are, however, the biggest thrill of a snow day for me was creating a snow fort or "igloo" as I called it.

After shoveling the tallest and widest mound of snow that I possibly could, I would then begin the process of tunneling and digging out the interior.

I took great care in constructing my little winter hideaway, making sure to find the right balance of space and strength so as not to have the whole thing come crashing down upon me.

Once finished I would furnish it with a small throw rug, books and my handy dandy transistor radio.

Before I could retreat into my own little snow world, there was just one more thing needed: Hot chocolate.

Yes, that sweet and creamy nectar of the gods that warmed me in both body and spirit.

With my thermos full of cocoa (made with hot milk rather than water) I crawled into my snow fort and entered into a quiet and pristine world of pretending and dreaming.

It was surprisingly warm inside and I would spend hour upon hour of my snow days blissfully cut off from the rest of the world.

Every so often I would invite or allow a friend to join me; however, more often than not, I basked in my solitude for the entire day until I heard my mother calling me to come in at which point, I would grab my empty thermos and handy dandy transistor radio and sulk my way back into the house.

Now that I am a grown up, (chronologically if nothing else), snow days mean cleaning off the car in the bitter cold, accompanied by a scary ride to or from work all with the risk of slipping or falling on the slick ground and breaking a hip or something.

I can't tell you how many times I wanted to whine and stomp my feet when my kids were lucky enough to have a snow day I and I was unable to enjoy it with them.

I know I will never see the name of my office scrolling across the TV screen indicating a closure due to snow and feel the corresponding elation that would otherwise accompany it; but perhaps I can save one vacation day each year to use as my snow day.

My snow day now would involve going back to sleep for a little, definitely.

Then, if I couldn't find anyone to play with me in the snow or to build a fort with me (not that my back would permit me to engage in such madness), I think it would be absolutely rapturous to take a long walk in the woods listening to the sound of the snow crunching beneath my feet as little snowflakes flutter against my eyelashes.

I could then just lose myself in the quiet beauty as it begins to pile up on the tree branches and limbs painting a whimsical and picturesque scene before my very eyes.

And there would be hot chocolate.

There must definitely be hot chocolate.