Are you dreaming of a White Christmas? If so, this is the place to be.
Snow has fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, so there’s been no time for gathering round the fire with a cup of warming glögg and a cd of Christmas carols, no time for phone calls to friends and family, no time even for wrapping presents, making the Christmas meal, or having a Christmas drink. There is time only for snow shovelling.
Last night, past midnight, we were taking it in turns to shovel snow down the driveway. If we’d left it any longer the snow would’ve been too heavy to move and our car would’ve been stuck in the garage, possibly for ever, or at least until we paid a Man With A Tractor to come and dig it out. It was blowing snow, wet and heavy snow, because the temperature had shot up to zero, the worst case scenario. That means the snow is hard to move, and later the top layer will melt and then freeze and will be even harder to move. Happy Christmas Kiruna.
I tried to stay in the festive mood. I sang carols. Not so loud to disturb the neighbours I hope, but loud enough. What an opportunity, to sing ‘Old King Wenceslas’, and ‘See Amid the Winter Snow’, or even, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ while toiling with the snow under a northern sky. So far so good – I sang, I shovelled, but sadly the spirit of Christmas did not arrive. It was invigorating, it was beautiful, but to my surprise it was not Christmassy.
I have always felt that snow equals Christmas, but coming from England I know more how it feels to long for snow at Christmas than how it feels to get it. On the very rare occasion snow has come at Christmas it’s been white snow on top of rich winter green. It has melted softly on the holly leaves, sliding slowly off bright red berries, leaving a glimmer of shiny wet whiteness. In the distance church bells chime and someone coming out of a pub shouts ‘Merry Christmas Mr Pickwick!’, throws a red striped scarf round their neck to keep out the snow drips, before getting on their bicycle, the sound of them whistling ‘Hark the Herald’ fading slowly into the distance as they cycle away.
It’s nothing like that here. It’s very very white under a dark or dusk sky, and the bushes are bare brown twigs poking up through the snow. The only green is the squat pine tree, but it’s so heavily laden with snow the green is hard to see. There’s no sound of Christmas conviviality – just the sound of tractors revving up to clear the roads of snow, and then silence. The sky is starry, and if we’re lucky, visited by green northern lights, and snow shovelling can feel really magical. But it does not feel like Christmas.
We have a White Christmas, but today I feel there’s a lot to be said for a wetter, greener, gentler, more southerly kind of Christmas season.