Sunday, December 20, 2015

Shorts and T-Shirts for Christmas!

We had our first hard freeze of this winter the night before last. Our local weather man tweeted that it was the latest date for the first hard freeze since the weather bureau moved out to the airport in 1946. According to, Christmas Day is supposed have a chance of thundershowers and a high of 81; another disappointing year for someone who wants to see a White Christmas just once.

Both the weatherman and I have experienced warm Christmases in our life. I was born and grew up in Jacksonville Florida and he spent his high school years there where it felt just as right to say “Mele Kalikimaka” as “Merry Christmas!” Just in case you have not been around long enough to remember that old Bing Crosby Christmas song, “Mele Kalikimaka” is Hawaiian for “Merry Christmas!” One particularly balmy Christmas day, I even jumped into a cousin’s swimming pool. As they say in Maine; it was a mite invigoratin’!

The irony of all this is that, if I had stayed in Jacksonville, I would have a White Christmas under my belt. The year of Hurricane Hugo, 1989 a freak ice storm hit the southeastern coast and spread a layer of ice from the Carolina Coast through Central Florida. My family’s Christmas gathering was postponed because no one could cross the ice covered bridges to meet. Travel to Florida to join the group was out of the question as I-95 was impassible. We’ve had some close calls here in Columbia with snow as early as the first of November, some snow between Christmas and New Years, and even a dusting on Christmas Eve. But alas, still no White Christmas for me. It would be just my luck that if we did have one here, it would be ice, not snow and the power would be out for days. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt.

I’m not saying that Jacksonville has warm Christmases every year, they are a bit unusual but they do happen. This brings up one of the unexpected consequences of warm Christmases; what to wear! Back in the day, one did not go to Mass on Christmas in nothing less than your finest. Because it does get cold in Northern Florida, when Mom was selecting our winter suits, they would often be significantly heavier than the linen or seersucker suits that we wore to church in the summer. So those Christmas Masses were sweaty ones, especially if you were an altar boy. We traded in suit jackets and ties for surpluses and cassocks that trapped heat better than a Dutch oven. Also contributing to the sweat factor was that the altar was 6 feet higher than the congregation. The air conditioning that did a great job of keeping the bottom 6 to 12 feet of the sanctuary cool was not as efficient in the winter time so the altar temperatures could soar into the low 80s. All I can say is that it is unnatural to be sweating in church on Christmas Day. (I now step aside for all the smarty pants who want to say that is not unnatural for me to sweating in church.) Ha ha!

Hot or cold, sunny or rainy, Christmas is the time for us all to come together in harmony, good will and peace. As we used to say on the radio back in the day, “Remember the REASON for the season!” Oh MY!

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