Growing up in Massachusetts, not every Christmas was white, but my brain seems to remember the snowy ones best. Or perhaps most fondly. Building snowmen, sledding and skiing in the backyard, digging tunnels in the snowbanks, identifying animal tracks in the snow, and hearing the scrape of dad's snow shovel on the front walk dominate my winter holiday memories.
Thus, a part of me has never really gotten used to a snowless late-December. When I lived in Senegal, Christmas temperatures reached the 80s. That was always strange to me. This year the temperature in Charleston was a balmy 75 degrees, I'm told.
This Christmas, Rebecca and I met my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their one and a half year-old son on Herron Island, in Washington state. The area was experiencing typical weather: cold, drizzle, and fog, but through breaks in the clouds we could easily see the snowy Olympic Range in the near distance. We kept a fire kindled in the wood stove, read books, ate and drank very well, explored the small island, told stories, watched birds, discovered an elaborate driftwood fort, kept the toddler entertained, and exchanged gifts on Christmas morning. My nephew now knows how to throw pebbles into a body of water, which is an important life lesson.
We were even visited by some bolder members of the island's deer population, with one even going so far as to eat tender spruce tips out of Rebecca's hand.
It was only afterward that I realized that the lack of "correct" Christmas weather didn't bother me at all. The drizzle and the fog and the laughter and the fun: it was all quite lovely after all.