By Jennie Gollehon

We moved from Nebraska so snow is not a new concept to us. We’ve seen it, felt it, been buried up to our noses in it; we’re no strangers to it. Yet for some reason, we have yet to purchase a snow blower.

Just last month, we purchased two new adult snow shovels and two kid-sized ones. Somehow, standing in Lowe’s and making that purchase, the thought of getting a snow blower still didn’t register. Now, in the middle of a Michigan winter buried under a foot of snow, I’m wondering why.

Monday morning of a snow day, my seven-year old son and I bundled up to tackle the long, double driveway. My husband had been out of town on a long four-day weekend and was due back later in the day. If he was lucky enough to make it into the unplowed neighborhood, he’d be stuck at the end of the drive if we didn’t tackle the snow.

After an hour, the tips of my toes were numb, my torso was sweating, my face was raw, and we were maybe a third of the way down the drive. Through the distant hum of snow blowers in full gear elsewhere in the neighborhood, my son said, “Mom, this would be much easier if we had a machine.”

“Mom, this would be much easier if we had a machine.”

Yes, a machine. That would be nice, Lord, I thought as a pickup truck with a snow blade drove down the street, Or that pickup truck. It could master this in about five minutes.

We shoveled away, my nose dripping. I recalled the time the winter before when, after clearing the end of our drive after the snowplow closed it, my three kids and I opened up the neighbor’s drive. My son had asked why.

That’s what you do, you help your neighbors. Will they know we did it? Will they pay us? They probably won’t even notice and we definitely won’t accept payment. It’s being neighborly. It’s being nice.

That’s what you do, you help your neighbors.

I stood up to take a breath and swipe my glove across my nose. Should I go in and check on my two younger children? Let my toes thaw and make sure PBS was still babysitting properly? Or should I keep at it?

And then, there it was trudging down the unplowed street; the machine my son requested, attached to the newest neighbor who lived across the way and down a house and whose name I can’t recall.

He came out of the snow and from behind our large pine that blocks the view of his house from mine. Without a word, he turned into our drive, cranked the spout of the blower to the east and crept up the snow covered drive towards us.

Warmth spread from my chest. My aches were gone, my toes were thawed, and my energy renewed. Over the droning hum of the snow blower, I leaned close to my son’s ear. “See, this is what it means to be neighborly.”

In less than ten minutes, the remainder of the drive was cleared. I sent over homemade cookies an hour later and will try really, really hard, to remember his name.

I sent over homemade cookies an hour later and will try really, really hard, to remember his name.


As I sip my warm tea and wait for the next snow storm to arrive, I am warmed by the thought that in simple, daily gestures, we are able to teach our children the importance of helping others and what it means and feels like to be a good neighbor.