It seems as if I have been dreaming of a white Christmas for most of my life, and I only wish I could say "just like the ones I used to know." I can recall only one instance of awakening on Christmas morning to enjoy a snowball fight with my brothers. But, oh boy, was it ever a fight to remember.
The tree limbs were encased in a layer of clear ice highlighted with glints of sunshine. Topping this diamond crust, and layering the ground, was a magical cotton-white fluff unblemished by even a footprint. After opening our presents and eating a pound of candy from our stockings, we all ran outside to grab handfuls of the icy fluff, ball it up, and let it fly.
Forget about snowmen; my two older brothers were declaring war against the two younger ones. Our house was surrounded by a high stone wall that made the perfect foundation for a snowy-walled fortress. We worked most of the morning building the fort out of snow, devising a flag from a broomstick and towel, and then took turns being the defending army. Wet clothes, freezing fingers and snow-covered hair could not deter us from our mission. And when the kids next door issued a "double-dog dare," the Jones Boys signed a temporary truce to move the snowball fight into the foreign territory of their backyard. Only sunset and the screams of our mothers to come to dinner brought us back to reality.
And the reality of Christmas in the CSRA is that it doesn't include snow. While we Georgians seem to yearn for the thrill of dashing through the snow, it rarely occurs on the Yuletide. The white stuff usually comes after the tree is taken down, the presents opened and Santa is snuggled back in his bed for a cold winter's nap. Somewhere in the back of my mind lurk some snow flurries on Christmas Eve, but they served as poor facsimiles of the winter wonderland portrayed on most greeting cards.
Despite all of the above, area residents apparently still associate snow with Christmas, and snowy themes such as snowmen and red cardinals on snowy limbs are among the most popular motifs of the season.
A drive through any local neighborhood will reveal an array of inflated snowmen, snowflake decorations and artificial snow occupying our yards, porches and windows. Turn on the radio, or visit any local store, and you'll hear Bing Crosby wishing for a White Christmas, or Perry Como crooning the attributes of a Winter Wonderland.
Pondering all of this makes me wonder why Southerners, especially CSRA residents, seem so captivated with a phenomenon that rarely appears on schedule. Snow carries a magical quality which seems to appeal to some hidden need we all have, especially at Christmas. After giving it some thought, I think I have solved at least some of the mystery.
It is also my belief that we subconsciously recognize a symbolism which has special significance in this politically correct age. As the snow falls, it covers all of the blemishes, scars and imperfections of the earth and reveals to us only a beautiful, pure landscape. We witness photographs, television shows and other depictions of this wonder of nature and it serves to remind us, subconsciously perhaps, of the real meaning for this season.
More than 2,000 years ago, a new contract was signed between Man and God with the birth of a poor carpenter's Son. That birth served as a promise that the world was to witness a new beginning in which our own moral blemishes, or sins, would be forgiven by our faith in the pure and flawless life of that Child and the truth of his birth. Just as the scarred and uneven earth is covered by the clean white snow, our sins are covered by the fulfillment of that promise, set in motion on that Holy Night.
Just as three kings searched the night for the miracle of the ages, we now watch the sky in hopes of witnessing our own symbol of purity. Thinking of all of this leaves me, once again, in awe of the hidden purpose to the universe. I recall that white Christmas of my youth with this new perspective, and with open wonder proclaim "How Great Thou Art." Therefore, I will continue to dream of a White Christmas, and would hope that Southerners living everywhere will do the same.
Merry Christmas to all!
(Dennis Jones is a Martinez resident.)
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