After somehow managing to survive 35 Christmases of a distinctly off-white hue, and still make it through with a modicum of enthusiasm for the occasion, it appears that for the first time, my dreams of a white one are coming true. Except, of course, that I’m not sure that I’ve ever really dreamed of it. Sure, there is the typical colonial hankering after it – but how much of that is true desire, and how much is just because I’ve never had one? After all, as the folks up north are banging on about it so incessantly, it must be a highly desirable experience, and it’s natural to piggyback on all the hype. Or not?
Well, we came pretty close once – there was the year in Edinburgh, where we had snow the day after Christmas (and then for a few days thereafter). If there’s a sliding scale of whiteness, where you get some of the joy if you only miss a white Christmas by a few days, I certainly didn’t pick up any of it. True – basing a conclusion like that on a sample of one is not highly scientific. But on the other hand – nobody ever dreams of a white Boxing Day, do they?
So this year, with about seven inches of snow in the past five days, and maximum temperatures of about -0.5°C forecast until after Christmas, it’s pretty clear that the snow will still be reasonably thick on the ground come Saturday. And so it’s the perfect opportunity to judge whether the hype is worthwhile. So far, according to an exhaustive survey of household inhabitants in my immediate area, it’s falling a little short. Interestingly enough, waning enthusiasm correlates highly with age.
My chief disappointments are that much of what one normally associates with a European Christmas – cold, dark, decorations, marzipan, decorations, markets, stollen, mulled wine – are all freely available in the absence of whiteness. And those things that aren’t – one-horse open sleighs and snowmen – tend not to be common anyway. Well, snowmen are around, it’s true, but my local Tesco is out of stock when it comes to one-horse open sleighs, and probably has been for years. And while the snow transforms the countryside into a stunningly beautiful vista, it would do that even if it wasn’t Christmas. So just having snow doesn’t seem to add anything to the package, and not having it doesn’t detract from it.
Another factor against this whole spiel is the trouble it causes – I know two people who’ve had flights out of the UK canceled, and are thus forced against their will to endure a white Christmas, and neither of them seem overjoyed at the prospect.
I’m sure I’ll get loads of comments telling me all the wonderful things about having snow at Christmas (or maybe not – there don’t seem to be many under-10s reading this blog for some reason) and maybe I’ll have to recant, repent and learn to rejoice in the Unbearable Whiteness of Being, but somehow, I don’t see that as being highly likely. But in case there’s some little trick to this whole shebang that we Southerners never figure out, and thus never fully appreciate Christmas, please let me know before Saturday so I have time to rectify my plans to include whatever it is I’m missing.
A final parting shot – here’s a topical Two Ronnies joke that’s just emanated from the TV – “… and then we have the Carnoustie man who heeded the Police’s advice to wear something white at night. He went out wearing a white coat, white trousers, and a white hat, and was run over by a snow plough.”