You probably know the song, and have heard Bing Crosby croon it: “I’m…dreaming of a white Christmas…just like the ones I used to know.”
This is true for me also. As much as I love living in the Marianas, I miss snow, especially during the Christmas season. Without snow, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas.
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of snow, or a white Christmas, there are quite a few stages to winter on the mainland, and they are all pretty much the same.
The first snowfall always occurs suddenly, around Thanksgiving. I remember being in third grade, in my classroom with Mrs. Batzing, and suddenly a girl named April Vogt exclaimed, “Oh look! It’s snowing!” All of us kids turned to see the white flakes falling outside our classroom windows, and it was joyous. I never forgot that.
After that, the snow fell fairly regularly. Sometimes there were blizzards—ferocious snowstorms, often with ice in them—which coated the branches of the black bare trees and also the electric lines.
Sometimes the snow piled up in lawns and yards and driveways. For us kids, we could make snowmen or lie on our backs and make “snow angels” by waving our arms and legs in the snow.
For the moms and dads, snow was a nuisance. Either you shovel your sidewalk and driveway, or call a guy with a pickup—with a plow in the front.
Early in the morning, around 5 or 6am, you could hear the big snowplows as they scraped the roads outside your house. They made a deep, rumbling sound as they passed.
When I was 14 years old, I learned to drive a tractor, which had a plow in front. My father asked me to plow the parking lot of his business, which I did. It was fun, especially for a young boy. The tractor—a Farmall Cub—had a little canopy I sat within, so I was protected from the elements. I plowed back and forth until the parking lot was clear of deep snow, so that the customers could park their cars.
It often snowed on Christmas Eve when I was younger; and the falling snow added to the Christmas atmosphere. My dad started a fire in the fireplace and put Christmas carols on the stereo. It could not have been more Christmassy.
The snow stayed with us through the New Year, which was fine. It was all part of the holiday season and we reveled in it. Since there was no school, we kids went outside to build snow forts and had snowball fights.
However, by January’s end, we no longer went out to play in the snow. We had school and homework and other things to do. We were getting tired of winter and its snow.
By March we were sick of snow, of slush, of trying to walk through sloppy brown melting water in the streets. We yearned for spring; for warm, sunny days. We were weary of kicking the chunks of frozen slush out of the wheel wells of our cars. We were tired of all the sloppiness that foretells the end of winter.
However, it wasn’t long before little crocuses began pushing themselves up through the snow, and we knew that spring was, at last, on the way.
And yet, to this day, the first snowfall remains a special, magical event for me. And April’s happy words, “Oh look! It’s snowing!” still ring fresh and clear.
As Teo, Saipan