Friday, December 16, 2016

Baby, it's you-know-what, you-know-where.

Last night the mercury dropped to 11 degrees F, with a windchill---or as AccuWeather calls it, "RealFeel"---of -9. High wind warning until 6 a.m. Snow tonight.

All you people out there dreaming of a white Christmas can kiss my hinder.

Bitching about the weather in the late fall, in the days before Christmas, is just another one of my Christmas traditions. Just like taking the annual Christmas card to my neighbor across the street. Not from us; every year since he moved in, a card has arrived from someone who has never bothered to find out his actual address. It's close, but off by a digit, and every year I walk it over there. Kelly is the sender's name. If it happens against next year, I'm writing Mr. Kelly a letter. Maybe we can exchange cards. At least then the address he has will work.

But back to the weather. This is the third Christmas with our canine companion, and now his kid brother, so I spend a lot more time outside than I used to. Every December I think back to my childhood in New York City, not that far south from us in the lower Hudson Valley, and I think: It was never this cold.

That's not just geezerhood talking. We very seldom got snow days at all in my youth, and very seldom got to take out the ol' sleds. It was extraordinarily unusual to break 0 on the Fahrenheit scale. Snow before January was almost never seen. We never had a white Christmas. It usually rained.

Now, you'll notice that I'm letting down the old-man side here by saying it was warmer in my childhood. We were supposed to have had to walk through five feet of snow to school every day, eight miles, uphill both ways, from September on, blah blah blah. Just wasn't the case. We got our share of miserable winter days, of course, but not until at least January, when the Christmas fun was over and packed away and the will to live had fled. Made men of us. Even the girls. By cracky.

Memory is a strange thing, indeed, and I may be forgetting the Thanksgiving we got a foot of snow, but I doubt such a thing occurred. I may forget people's names, but I never forget being cold and miserable.

Before I leave off for the day, I did want to mention one Christmas tradition that has come to an end. We had a neighbor who had a little pond in his yard. In the summer it was hidden behind trees, but we could see it from the back of our house when the leaves all fell. We didn't know him, because he actually lived on another street, his house tucked into the woods, only the lip of his driveway visible from the road itself. There was a little island in the pond, just a lump of dirt, and every year he would take this little pyramid made of PVC pipe and strung with Christmas lights and place it on the island. At nighttime we could see this happy little Christmas tree on its little Christmas island.

It's silly, but we looked forward to it every year. I even put some lights on the back of our house, just to respond to their kindness in kind.

Well, they sold the property and moved away this year, and the new owners have not continued the tradition. It's left a little hole in our celebration.

I hope that wherever the family moved, it had a little place to put a little mock tree that looked like a cheerful Christmas tree at night. I wish I had gotten to meet them before they moved, just to thank them.

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