The first time I saw it, I wasn’t ready. I guess at this point I should have been, but I wasn’t. It isn’t like it was too early in the year. The timing was right from what I remember of the winter I had been through a year ago. It is just that I grew up much farther north and on the other side of the ocean. I guess part of me had just assumed that since everything is warmer here, winter simply will not happen.
Then I saw it. At least, I think I did. It was still very early in the day and I was walking through the park when something seemed to appear on the periphery of my vision. No. That isn’t possible. I stopped. If I was a smoker I would have thought nothing of it. If I was still living in upstate New York I would have been seeing it for a couple months at least. This was the first time for me to see it this season and I had to make sure I wasn’t just imagining things.
I breathed in deep, held it for a minute, then let it all out in a rush. There it was. I could see my breath. It had actually become cold enough for every exhale to become mist if only for the briefest of instants. I hate to admit it but I was actually a bit excited. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a summer boy. I don’t like the cold and I absolutely hate snow… 99 percent of the time. There has, however, always been something special about the first snowfall of the year.
In New York that snowfall can and often does come quite early. I remember having snowball fights on Halloween. I also have fond memories of playing football on Thanksgiving in snow up to my knees. Winter’s first offering doesn’t always come as early as October but it is a rare thing for December to arrive without at least some white falling to the ground. There has been an occasional green grass Christmas but those are few and far between.
I’m not so lucky where I now live. Well, at least that’s the way a winter lover would view it. I consider myself very lucky. From my one winter’s experience and what from others have told me there’s probably about an 80% chance we will get snow some time this winter. By Christmas? Almost certainly not. For me that is quite fine. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow… somewhere else. Snow is a beautiful thing to see… on a Thomas Kinkade postcard.
I think some of you might be a bit confused at this point. I don’t like the cold. I hate snow. So why on earth would I be getting excited about a visible sign that winter is coming? If this world was Westeros, I would definitely more Dornish than Stark. Well, let me answer your question with one of my own. When does the Christmas season start for you? Is it today, December first? Is it black Friday as you take advantage of all those sales and maybe perhaps buy presents for others as well as yourself? Does it happen when you see the first Christmas stuff at Walmart sometime in mid September? Do you wait to get into the spirit when you see the first carton of eggnog on sale at Stewarts?
Once upon a time I had a collection of Christmas CD’s. For about ten months of the year they would sit in a box somewhere in the corner of my closet. I don’t know when I first started doing it, but at least as early as my college years the first snowfall of the year marked the day I would pull them out of storage and start listening to them. I tried one year to listen to at least one CD a day every day until Christmas. (That didn’t last) For me that first snowfall, be it mid October or early December, was the moment winter had come and Christmas was upon us. Obviously, I can no longer wait for snow but without even realizing I was doing it, I had substituted that first snowfall with my first visible breath. So by the time you are reading this, I have already been listening to Christmas music for a few weeks. (In case you’re wondering, it was Friday, November 10th when it happened this year). I won’t do lights. I don’t have a tree. Although ugly sweaters seem to be a fairly common thing around here, you won’t find me wearing one. I will do my best to find some eggnog, but I don’t have high hopes for the taste even if it does appear. Christmas means a lot of things to me and I will share a lot of that in the days to come, but the soundtrack of Christmas… it makes this month far and away my favorite of the year. Even though I don’t like the cold, let it snow. I’ve got some music to share with you.