Thursday, December 24, 2015

What Kind of Christmas?

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know..."
Irving Berlin

The words above from the song by Bing Crosby are familiar to us. For many, these words set expectations for ideal Christmas weather. In areas that get snow fall, Meteorologists start predicting the likelihood of a "white Christmas" as early as October.

We like the idea of a white Christmas. Greeting card manufacturers stoke our expectations with pictures of snow, horses and sleighs, and warm and cozy farmsteads populated by cheery people. It's all very romantic, nostalgic and beautiful. 

I love those images. They take me back to memories of Christmas Dinner with Grandma, Grandpop, my two aunts, my uncles, Mom, Dad, my sisters and me all seated around Grandma's table enjoying the meal and the time together.

Even with all seven leaves and the table expanded to maximum capacity, there was seldom room for all the food. There was turkey with mashed potatoes, inside and outside dressing, sweet potatoes, corn, and corn pudding, spoon bread, sauerkraut, cranberry sauce and lots of giblet gravy. For dessert, there were pies, apple  and pumpkin, and mincemeat "with liquor in it" the idea of which which made my aunts giggle. There was applesauce fruit cake and cookies and candies. And there was joy. 

The one thing there was not was snow.

In rural Maryland where I grew up, December is a mixed bag. Some years, Christmas was gray, some years sunny. Other years, it rained. Temperatures ranged from chilly to bitter cold to almost springlike. One year -- the year I got engaged -- we had nearly sixty degrees and a short thunder snowstorm followed by driving rain. 

And yet, as the song prompts, we dream of a white Christmas, but not really. What we really dream of is the warmth and fellowship of family and friends, of seeing the joy in someone's eyes as they open that special present, of the joy of singing carols and hearing the Christmas Story. Our wish is to rekindle that joy and excitement and hold it close to our heart, to make merry and be glad whether the day be warm or cold, white with snow, or wet with mud.

This year, there will be no white Christmas for me. Instead, we will enjoy rain and temperatures borrowed from April. The appropriate song would be

"I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas,
With raindrops falling all around!
Puddles glisten, and people listen 
To raindrops falling on the ground.

I'm dreaming of a warm Christmas,
With temperatures like early spring,
Trees are budding above the mudding,
And dampness covers everything.

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas,
Where rain will never dim the lights,
Nor silence singing of people bringing
Gifts to celebrate this night.

I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas.
We'll celebrate the Holy Birth.
Our God is with us to love and bless us
And will bring us peace on earth."

With sincere apologies to Irving Berlin and Bing Crosby.

Are you having a white Christmas?

What kind of Christmas are you having?

What makes Christmas special to you?