Let It Snow by David Sedaris
Let It Snow
by David Sedaris
Winters were frustratingly mild in North Carolina, but one year I was in the fifth grade we got
lucky. Snow fell, and, for the first time in years, it accumulated. School was canceled, and two
days later we got lucky again. There were eight inches on the ground, and, rather than melting, it
froze. On the fifth day of our vacation, my mother had a little breakdown. Our presence had
disrupted the secret life she led while we were in school, and when she could no longer take it
she threw us out. It wasn’t a gentle request but something closer to an eviction. “Get the hell out
of my house,” she said.
We reminded her that it was our house, too, and she opened the front door and shoved us into the
carport. “And stay out!” she shouted.
My sisters and I went down the hill and sledded with other children from the neighborhood. A
few hours later, we returned home, surprised to find that the door was locked. “Oh, come on,” we
said. I rang the bell, and when no one answered we went to the window and saw our mother in
the kitchen, watching television. Normally she waited until five o’clock to have a drink, but for
the past few days she’d been making an exception. Drinking didn’t count if you followed a glass
of wine with a cup of coffee, and so she had a goblet and a mug positioned before her on the
“Hey!” we yelled. “Open the door. It’s us.” We knocked on the pane and, without looking in our
direction, she refilled her goblet and left the room.
“That bitch,” my sister Lisa said. We pounded again and again, and when our mother failed to
answer we went around back and threw snowballs at her bedroom window. “You are going to be
in so much trouble when Dad gets home!” we shouted, and in response my mother pulled the
drapes. Dusk approached, and as it grew colder it occurred to us that we could possibly die. It
happened, surely. Selfish mothers wanted the house to themselves and their children were
discovered years later, frozen like mastodons in blocks of ice.
My sister Gretchen suggested that we call our father, but none of us knew his number, and he
probably wouldn’t have done anything anyway. He’d gone to work specifically to escape our
mother, and between the weather and her mood it could be hours, or even days, before he
“One of us should get hit by a car,” I said. “That would teach the both of them.” I pictured
Gretchen, her life hanging by a thread as my parents paced the halls of Rex Hospital, wishing
they had been more attentive. It was really the perfect solution. With her out of the way, the rest
of us would be more valuable and have a bit more room to spread out. “Gretchen, go lie in the
“Make Amy do it,” she said.
Amy, in turn, pushed it off on Tiffany, who was the youngest and had no concept of death. “It’s
like sleeping,” we told her. “Only you get a canopy bed.”
Poor Tiffany, She’d do just about anything in return for a little affection. All you had to do was
call her Tiff, and whatever you wanted was yours: her allowance, her dinner, the contents of her
Easter basket. Her eagerness to please was absolute and naked. When we asked her to lie in the
middle of the street, her only question was “Where?”
We chose a quiet dip between two hills, a spot where drivers were almost required to skid out of
control. She took her place, this six-year-old in a butter-colored coat, and we gathered on the
curb to watch. The first car to come along belonged to a neighbor, a fellow-Yankee who had
outfitted his tires with chains and stopped a few feet from our sister’s body. “Is that a person?” he
“Well, sort of,” Lisa said. She explained that we’d been locked out of our house, and, while the
man appeared to accept it as a reasonable explanation, I’m pretty sure he was the one who told on
us. Another car passed, and then we saw our mother, this puffy figure awkwardly negotiating the
crest of the hill. She did not own a pair of pants, and her legs were buried to the calf in snow. We
wanted to send her home, to kick her out of nature just as she had kicked us out of the house, but
it was hard to stay angry at someone that pitiful-looking.
“Are you wearing your loafers?” Lisa asked, and in response our mother raised a bare foot.
“I was wearing loafers,” she said. “I mean, really, it was there a second ago.”
This was how things went. One moment she was locking us out of our own house and the next
we were rooting around in the snow, looking for her left shoe. “Oh, forget about it,” she said.
“It’ll turn up in a few days.” Gretchen fitted her cap over my mother’s foot. Lisa secured it with
her scarf, and, surrounding her tightly on all sides, we made our way home.