|Jinny is having minor surgery to improve her eyesight so I will be writing her article for the next 4-6 weeks. We both appreciate your patience and are confident that she will be back writing her article soon...Adele
No matter what anyone tells you, Christmas is not Christmas when it is 80 degrees outside.
In speaking with my mother and others, I am well aware that it is cold and snowy in Maine. You are undoubtedly sitting in the middle of that grim, wintry landscape thinking that I have no right to complain about 80 degree weather, and you are absolutely right. I'm not complaining as much as making an observation. It just does not feel like Christmas.
Allow me to elaborate. I had practically no desire whatsoever to put up my Christmas tree. For one thing, my apartment still looks like a refugee camp; boxes and plastic tubs still abound and I haven't had the time or energy to put up pictures or make everything ship shape. Nevertheless, I put up the tree. My tree is very big and very elaborate and is a boatload of work to erect. It dominates a room, and as I sit here writing this, it is reaching out with needly limbs to tap me on the shoulder. There are a lot of lights on my tree. As I was putting it up I realized that despite the fact that I was wearing only shorts and a tank top, I was sweating like a horse. The tree lights were pumping out a considerable amount of thermal energy which, combined with the outside temperature, was making it hot enough to fry eggs on the coffee table. I had to turn them off. I can recall when the warmth coming from the tree was a comforting thing on a winter night. It always made the room cozy and glowing. Now it makes the room hot enough to grow orchids.
People down here freeze when it drops below 70. They bundle up in winter coats and tell each other how cold it is. I have yet to wear a long sleeved shirt and my son wears shorts to school every day. They tell me that I will acclimate. I'm hoping not. It seems so wimpy.
No one makes a big deal about decorating or whatnot for Christmas down here. The national chain stores have holiday sections about a quarter of the size of the ones in Maine. There are very few houses with outside decorations and no one seems to want to string lights in a palm tree. There will be no driving around town in the evening to see all the decorated houses this year.
The difference really hit me when I went to a big store and the guy standing outside ringing the bell to collect money for the less fortunate was standing in his shirt sleeves and wearing sun glasses. It just seemed so wrong. There was something very seasonally meaningful when I went to the stores in Maine and someone had the goodness and sense of sacrifice to stand outside in the brutal cold all bundled up and ring the bell for those in need. It always gave me a sense of hope for humanity when I dropped my money in the pot and smiled at the nice person who volunteered to collect it. I would often give money to Chuck to buy the poor soul some hot chocolate and bring it out to him or her. This year, I wanted to buy the guy with the bell some sunscreen. Not the same feeling at all.
I know that it is cold and I know that there is a lot of snow with the forecast of more. I know that 80 degrees and sunshine sounds like heaven. But you have something infinitely wonderful that I do not. You have the cheerful sight of Christmas lights on almost all the houses as you drive home from work, bright and glowing and reflecting off the snow. You have that indescribably welcoming feeling of walking into your home from the cold night and feeling that rush of warm air from a kitchen where good things are cooking and baking. You have the satisfaction of taking off your heavy coat and hanging it by the door and pulling off your snow covered boots and stepping into warm slippers. You have the glow of the Christmas tree warming the room and making the night less dark and cold. You can sit in your livingroom with your children and grandchildren wearing a comfy, soft old sweater and experience that marvelously comforting sense of being home out of the frigid night with the people that you love. New England is Christmas and Christmas is New England. They share a powerful symbiosis that makes for a way of life that brings the modern world and the traditional world together in a wonderful way. Go ahead and curse the cold and groan at the snow and complain all you want; you're entitled. But don't take the good things for granted because in the end, they make the best and most vivid memories.