WordPress’s “snowflakes” have some bloggers thinking about ways to include those of us in the Southern Hemisphere. Falling flower petals maybe? That would be nice. But I don’t mind snowflakes at Christmas, and I suspect I am talking for many others Down South.
Our traditions have come from the Northern Hemisphere. We try to adapt them to our hot weather, but even food is often the traditional hot roasts and plum puddings. Poor Santa has to struggle with the full red and white rig, Christmas cards show sleighs in the snow and many tree decorations are sparkly snowflakes. And we seem to like it that way.
I grew up with Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas”and my dream was to have a white Christmas. I think I am speaking for many of us in the south.
Well, I had my white Christmas in 1985, and it was everything I thought it should be.
My sister was living in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts with her husband and her young daughter. I had been doing the Grand Tour of Europe and I flew to Boston to be with them at Christmas. My Mum and Dad were also staying with them. You can imagine what a lovely time it was [although very cramped in their little apartment!].
Well, Christmas there was unlike anything we had experienced. Now days lots of houses in Melbourne are decorated with lights and signs and blow-up Santas. Not then. I have always been a sucker for lights that flash and to see the trouble people went to in the States was an eyeopener. There were even Santas on the roof tops!
The shops were all decked out in Christmas things and not only looked great but smelt amazing, spiced candles and potpourri. I remember a candy store in an old house that only sold Christmas lollies. Mum still has the sleigh she bought there, although the chocolates that it held have long gone.
And yes, it snowed!
Scraping ice off the windshield would be a common experience for many of you, but for Dad it was a novelty.
My niece made snow angels and tried her hand at skiing. You wouldn’t be surprised to know that I had no idea what snow angels were.
It was cold like nothing else we had experienced. Of course we had the wrong shoes and coats, and of course we loved it! After Christmas Mum, Dad and I went to Toronto, stopping off at Niagara Falls, where we saw chunks of ice tumbling over the Falls. I didn’t know it could get cold enough to almost freeze a waterfall. The concrete viewing area was so slippery with ice I worried about falling over the edge.
However, my favourite memory is of the Christmas tree. Last year I posted about the daggy Christmas trees and hand made decorations that were part of my childhood. In Shrewsbury we had the real deal.
My sister had made friends with a chap from the Post Office. Jerry had a cabin with a little bit of land forested with pine trees. We got to choose our own tree, chop it down, tie it to the car and take it home. It was a “proper” tree, with branches that came out straight and got smaller as they got to the top. Just like the Christmas cards!
We were given decorations by other new friends. Each year they had a different colour theme for their tree. We were slightly aghast at this as we were still using mangy tinsel from many years before! And the idea of co-ordinating the colours on the tree, so common now, was unheard of then. They generously gave us last year’s baubles.
You can imagine the fun we had decorating this tall tree in the little flat in Shrewsbury. But if you look closely you can see the decorations made by my niece at kindergarten 🙂
There was eggnog and carol singers. We walked through the snow to visit people who welcomed us warmly into their homes and hearts. We marvelled at the decorations and the generosity of friends. And we enjoyed the love and company of each other.
So, I had my Christmas card Christmas, and I don’t mind snowflakes and reindeer. Just make sure that, however and whatever you celebrate over the next week or so, you are safe, healthy and loved. Hugs to you all x x x
16 replies on “I was dreaming of a white Christmas….”
Oh Thank you for sharing Anne… it brings back such memories from all those years ago. You bought story books about the snow for Amy that she loved, we still have them. It also reminds me of the white christmases I have had, for we southerners it’s a really unique experience. Interestingly our relatives who have been here for a southern summer christmas just find it too different, ‘it’s just not christmas ‘ they complain.
I remember selecting that book for Amy, and I think it was you who explained what snow angels were! I think that hot Christmases do take some getting used to. As we have all those northern traditions, it is easier for us to go there and find delight than it often is for northerners to come south and swelter. But we get to eat nectarines from your tree!
Anne, what a delightful post. I enjoyed every word. Your joy is palpable. It’s so interesting how the traditions of Christmas have evolved. In our neighborhood we have a custom of placing a tree decorated with just lights in our front yards. One person coordinates it, and then several of us volunteer as block captains. As we drive through the neighborhood, about 80% of the houses have a tree and many, too, have lights. There are families that don’t celebrate Christmas at all and that is of course okay too.
I spent my first six years in Ontario, Canada so we had snow on the ground every Christmas. It was strange moving to California and having it be warm without any chance of snow.
Thanks for sharing your photos and memories.
That is such a lovely tradition, and would create a community vibe. On another blog I saw a photo of a tree on the nature strip that was swathed in lengths of vibrant coloured fabric. It looked amazing, and I might try it for next year.
Anne, it does create a nice community vibe. I love that part of it most of all.
The tree you’ve described swathed in coloured fabric sounds gorgeous. I hope you’ll capture a photo of it and share on your blog.
I found it on another blog, so I will find it and send on the link. It was stunning and an idea that deserves to be shared.
Terrific! Thanks, Anne.
I found my first southern hemisphere Christmas a bit of a culture shock. I wasn’t expecting snow; it rarely snowed for Christmas where I lived as a child. But I found the cosiness lacking; no dark evenings, no lights twinkling welcomingly in windows as you came in from the cold, no need to rug up in cheerful woollies and warm boots. Now, many years on, I’m happy with my warm, sunny Christmas morning, the scent of flowers mingled with candles, cool, fresh colour schemes, and best of all, no huge hot turkey and steamed pudding!
I had forgotten about night coming down early. i was blown away by shopping in the dark at about 4 o’clock! Twinkly lights are made for those sort of evenings. Here you have to wait until about 9 to get the full effect of everyone decorations. I am so glad I had the white Christmas, but I do love my Melbourne ones.
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I’ve only had one ‘white Christmas’, at least that I can remember, and it was more than enough for me! Coming from a warm November in Australia, the cold in Budapest had me gasping. And yes, my shoes were so slippery I simply could not stay on my feet. Honestly? I think I prefer our brown Christmases. 😀
Of course, Christmas in Melbourne isn’t always sweltering (although it looks like it could be this year). I remember times when it poured with rain and other days when we had to turn the heater on! Good ole unpredictable Melbourne!
lol – I fear the xmas bird might turn into a salad this year!
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I live in central Canada. One can get a bit down about the weather after a few months of it, but there are some interesting folkways such as over-the-top lights on houses, trees, shrubs, fences, hedges, garages. There can also be some elaborate creches ( statuary and structures outside homes, portraying the nativity ). People here leave those lights on all winter. There are many food and musical events which keep our minds off the cold and mark the season. We have to ‘plug-in’ our cars to keep electric heaters in the engines going if we are parking outside in really cold weather, such as overnights in February where it’s regularly -20C to -30 Centigrade . For walking on ice, we use rubber overshoes which have several small carbon-steel spikes under them, so you can walk anywhere with no problems.
Thanks so much for that David. It is almost unimaginable to me. At the moment I am melting in heat that is over 40 degrees and the idea of ice and snow sounds wonderful! My favourite phrase at the moment is “It is what it is”, which sums up the weather perfectly. We adapt to whatever we have. So you plug in your car and wear shoes with spikes, and have music and food and festivals to cheer you soul. Keep warm, and have a safe, healthy festive season.
Hi Anne What a fantastic blog. I loved reading it, and was fascinated to see what you remembered. You brought back some wonderful memories. Can you send this to Claire? She would love to see the photos of her small self. See you n Christmas night.
Love Judy >
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It was a lovely time. The icing on the Christmas cake was all the warm, friendly people we met…..well, you met them and became friends; I just tagged along! Wasn’t Claire a sweetie? And still is, of course.