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weather report: slight chance of nostalgia

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I don't recall the last time we had a white Christmas around these parts. I'm sure that when I was a child, we had them all the time. Right?

I wonder how many of my Christmas memories are colored not by real happenings, but by television commercials and magazine articles and other people's polaroids.

When I envision Christmas Past, I see myself as a small child, dressed to the hilt in gloves, parka, snow boots, some itchy woolen hat with a pom-pom attached and, if my grandmother was around, plastic sandwich bags around my socks for extra protection. I see at least two feet of snow on the ground, and every lawn decorated with real snowmen, not those blow-up doll versions of today. Carrot for a nose, coal for eyes, a real honest-to-goodness stovepipe hat and the most perfect of all branches that jut out like real arms and hands.

I'm almost positive it would snow every Christmas Eve, beginning just about midnight. And I know that if I stayed very, very still in my bed I could hear not only the glistening, powdery snow falling to the ground, but the slight jingle of sleighbells in the distance. Maybe even a ho! ho! ho! if I listened very, very carefully.

And I'm pretty sure that when I woke up Christmas morning, before the sun, before even the birds, that I would immediately spring to the window and pull up the shades and be greeted by the hugest snowfall ever. The moon, still hovering in the dark morning sky, would reflect on the whiteness below and everything appeared to be tinged in an early morning vision of blue. The snow sparkled and shimmered in the moonlight and the perfectly formed icicles that hung off the rain gutter of every house on my block reflected the moonlight and made those wee hours look as if a magic spell had turned my street into a Christmas fairy land.

And I know that when I woke up my sisters at that ungodly hour and we ran in to shake my parents until they opened their sleepy eyes, that everyone was incredibly excited to be awake at 4am, even my parents. We would trudge into the living room, fuzzy slippers shuffling on the carpet, and either mom or dad would turn the tree lights on and the living room would come alive with color and flashes and the huge, spinning, majestic star on top of the tree seemed to dance.

I'm pretty sure that we would all exclaim at the same time that Santa indeed had arrived, even my parents, who looked as astonished as us girls and we would weep with joy because Santa loved us so.

In my memories, the three of us, sisters full of love and wonder, would sit by the fireplace as mom and dad handed us present after present - Chatty Cathy and E-Z bake ovens and K-Tel records and trinkets that seemed to be made of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We never fought, us angelic sisters. We didn't compare or contrast or argue over presents. We just shared each other's joy and felt the warmth from our parents, who praised Santa for rewarding such well behaved children so lavishly.

I'm almost positive that we would then dress up in our winter ensemble, the boots and jackets and scarves, and we would frolick out in the deep, soft snow with all the neighborhood children, and the nice man from across the street would offer sleigh rides to all the children, whose cheeks were flush and rosy and whose laughter filled the air.

I force these nostalgic visions of the Christmases that really weren't upon my own children, regaling them with tales of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and riding in a one horse open sleigh. They eye me suspiciously, as if these memories of mine could not possibly be real.

Oh, I am in no way saying that the real version of my Christmas Past does not fulfill my sense of nostalgia; even the visions of my sisters and I fighting over gifts and the itchy pajamas we had to wear and my parents not being very joyous at 4am still make me smile.

Even if we never had a white Christmas at all, in my mind's postcard of those holidays, the ground is always white and there's a huge spruce in my front yard and sleighbells can be heard at midnight. My memories get mixed up with Norman Rockwell paintings and Christmas poems.

Still, all that nostalgia is made of a few real things, whether or not there was snow on the ground. It's made of family and warmth and the anticipation that comes with being a kid on Christmas eve.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

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» Let it snow from On The Third Hand
Michele almost makes me miss snow. Almost. [Read More]

» White Christmas Maybe? from greeblie blog
Looks like it shaing up to be a white christmas around here, at least we are due for snow tonite [Read More]

Comments

It's the real and the idealized versions of what Christmas is that makes Christmas special, Michele. It takes both.

I don't remember a single white Christmas - the nearest we got was snow two days after Xmas a couple of years back.

Of course, in south-east England we only get snow every other winter on average, and it's usually January or February.

I suspect the concept of the White Christmas comes, like many Xmas traditions, from the Victorians - they had a series of very cold winters in the mid-1800s.

Michele -- watching WNBC this morning, they said the last white Christmas in this area was in 1969.

I think we had one in CT when I was growing up in the 70's, and one in the 80's, but the memories grow dim.

I saw a piece this morning on the history of the White Christmas song. Released in 1942, it was written to remind a nation at war of simpler times. There are even 16 bars at the front of the song that are very upbeat, that Berlin later cut from the song, as they changed the tone completely.

I woke up this morning to thunder and lightning AND snow. Really mushy snow, but snow nonetheless. Freaking strange. Last week it was 70 out.

It will all either be ice or gone by wednesday I am sure.

Right now, it's snowing from light to heavy over most of Oklahoma. This morning began with rain that changed over to snow about 0900 in the Oklahoma City area. There's also a gentle wind wafting the snow sideways right now. It ain't going away by Wednesday.

I know we had a big snowstorm on the Island in 1995 around Christmas time -- I remember bits and pieces of this: the family was trying to get to the airport in the chaos that ensued on the LIE and my mom was happy that she forced us to leave extremely early just in case the snow actually fell...

Ah well. Would be nice to see a little bit of snow.