Friday, December 23, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

For reasons I've never entirely understood, the Holiday Seasons has become intertwined with Winter and snow.  You may be thinking to yourself, "Jason, that's because Christmas occurs in Winter," which is true, but do you expect a ninety-five degree day the first day of Summer?  Is it magically warm and sunny on the first day of Spring?  Of course not, but during the Holidays the expectation that Winter will be in full roar on December 25th is pretty standard.

In some ways Christmas is a late fall holiday, it's only a couple of days removed from the Winter Solstice after all.  The coldest days lie ahead for most of us this time of year (think the horribleness of February), and while the days may be getting slightly longer, the worst is still in front of us.  Turning Christmas into a Winter Holiday has been horrible for the human psyche.  We've turned The Holidays into a Winter Carnival, and then after the first of the year we want to immediately dismiss Winter when it's only just begun.  The good parts of Winter are only celebrated at the start of the season, and then everyone starts wishing for Spring.  Keeping the Christmas Lights up into February would make the most depressing time  of year less depressing.  If Christmas is going to be a Winter Holiday Par Excellence we should move it to Imbolc (Feb. 2).

Living on the West Coast the expectation of a White Christmas is extremely bothersome, and represents one of the worst examples of East Coast Bias.  "Since it snows in New York, the expectation is that it snows everywhere," which is absolute bunk.  The majority of Americans will not celebrate a White Christmas this year, and the majority of Americans will not celebrate a White Christmas next year either.  While it's true that many states do get snow on Christmas, there are an equal amount of states that do not, and just because a state can get snow doesn't mean that it will.  Think of all the places that will never have (or have a very low probability of having) a White Christmas:  Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, New Orleans, Houston, San Diego, Mele Kalikimaka to you all.  

I don't begrudge people their White Christmas, it's fine, and snow is really pretty, I just wish the media would start showing some images that reflect the reality of what most Americans encounter in late December.  Even while living in Michigan, a White Christmas was never a sure thing, and we certainly had our share of Brown Christmases (a Brown Christmas:  a winter day without any snow or living plant life), as most Snow Belt residents do.  I grew up in Tennessee (just outside of Nashville) and we never had White Christmases there either (unless you got up early enough to catch the last bit of frost on the lawn) and those are some of my most memorable holidays.  Getting a new bike for Christmas in Tennessee meant I could ride it on Christmas Day, sure it was a bit chilly, but it was entirely possible, and like getting a second gift entirely.

 About the only other image ever associated with Christmas is the "Ironic Southern California/Hawaii" image.  Either the "Look we are celebrating on the beach!" picture or the "Aren't we clever we've got a palm tree for a Christmas Tree!" photo.  Out here in Northern California we have plenty of lit up palm trees, but you'd be an absolute fool to unwrap presents on the beach today.  It was 37 degrees this morning, and those Pacific Ocean Breezes aren't warm or soothing, they are cold and nasty.  My holiday will be similar to the holiday most Americans experience, a chilly one (at least in the morning, it'll probably get to sixty by 2:00 pm), and one without snow.

I'm probably only harping on the White/Green Christmas thing because it's causing conflict with my internal seasonal clock.  I keep seeing all of these images of snow, and there is no snow out here, nor will there be.  These images create the expectation that there should be, and the odds are better that I'll find a Sasquatch in my backyard than a snowflake in the sky.  If you are reading this in New Jersey and find my anger at East Coast Bias irritating, think about our situations if they were reversed.  What if the Los Angeles palm tree model of Christmas was dominant, and you were bombarded with that image while you had snow on the ground?  Wouldn't it be annoying?  Wouldn't it disrupt your seasonal expectations?  Of course it would.

If you have a White Christmas I hope it's gorgeous and I wish you all the best.  Just be careful while driving, and don't throw out your back while shoveling all that snow.  I'll have a Green Christmas, surrounded by blowing leaves, palm trees, and winter flowers.  I'm going to be celebrating a Green Christmas out here even though the media says that the idea should be depressing, and yet somehow it's not, I just wish they'd show the rest of the country how joyful it is NOT to have snow on the ground.  

1 comment:

  1. you know 30 some years ago it would be a white christmas. We didn't have any 60 degree days in December here in Ohio. It did snow in the months of November and December. I remember getting snowed in at my grandmothers and have to wait a day to get home and we still got into a multiple car accident because the roads were so bad..........