La Navidad Del Diablo Helado

This afternoon, when my husband asked me to get my behind in gear and write a post, I decided to write about the implications for Mormon religious thought of the fact that behavior-determining mental illnesses have a biological basis. Then RT and I went out to purchase a Christmas tree, and I got cold. I got really, really cold. It was 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside. My lips went numb.

I’m now so busy thinking about the horrible, awful, dark, cold winter that’s begun here in Chicago that I can’t possibly write what I originally intended. I’m too busy remembering the seven years I spent bugging RT about the lack of snow in our Decembers.

I wanted to live someplace that had snow for Christmas. I agreed that the Bay Area’s Mediterranean climate is nice, but I insisted that it ruined the holidays. I said that while I like the Caribbean, no place with palm trees was a fit location for a celebration of the birth of our Lord (I didn’t care what the Bible said! I knew that He was born at the North Pole, in a hay-filled igloo, surrounded by reindeer!)

Now that we live someplace that’s really cold in the winter, though, I realize that I spent almost a decade in a delusional state. I was wrong! Winter is horrible. Snow is lousy. Christmas should not be disrupted by such meteorological nastiness. If NASA can’t find a way to rearrange our planet’s axial tilt thingy, then the agency needs to install really big, solar powered heaters way up in the atmosphere, to be switched on when the temperature starts to drop. I’m longing for a green, rainy Venezuelan Christmas, just like the ones I used to know.


  1. Julie M. Smith says:

    I like this post, because every year this time I feel guilty that I am screwing up my kids by raising them with no experience of four seasons. (We have two seasons: Wicked Hot and Not Quite That Hot.)

  2. I’m from the Bay Area as well. I love the weather, but I do find it kind of amusing that the palm trees are strung with lights at Christmas time. We’re having an unseasonably warm spell, such that I walked around without a jacket today. I called my mom and said that I don’t feel Christmasy because it’s so warm. Thanks for your post; it sums up my feelings on winter perfectly.

  3. Bay Area here too… and now that I’ve lived in a four-seasons climate going on five winters, I have to say, I still like it.

    Of course, the pacific northwest is hardly Chicago coldness- but as a kid, I always lamented the sunny, warm Christmas days we would have. Never felt right. Now, I look out my window, and we have about 2″ of snow- inches, not feet- and I can manage that!

  4. Pansies. My last year at Purdue (a couple of hours south of you), it got to negative 20. Just wait. Bwah ha ha ha!

  5. I’m in Australia and no, it doesn’t feel like Christmas. It might as well be June or July. I’m of the mind that there should be cold, ice, warm fires, hot chocolate, etc. I nearly fell over in a laughing fit when I looked outside and saw my neighbors nailing cotton sheets to their front lawns as if to ‘look’ like snow. This just can’t be right.

  6. First of, I’m severely bummed to hear you’ve moved. I don’t live in the Bay Area right now, but it’s still home and I liked having you there!

    Currently I’m living in the tropics – and it’s hot. (I saw a real cockatoo flying through the trees on the way to work the other day– yeah!) I grew up in the Bay Area and have never been wistful about the cold. Christmas at the beach? Playing outside on Christmas morning on your new skateboard? Oh yes…!

  7. I like Boise. It get’s cold here, but not Chicago cold. Not Logan or Rexburg or even SLC cold. Usually snow melts by the next day, and I still have pansies and mums and even some hollyhocks that are holding onto life. It’s a nice inbetween kinda comprimise. I feel like I get my seasons, but I still have yet to wear my cold sweaters and coats and gloves and hats from back when I lived in the places that go really cold.

  8. MikeInWeHo says:

    Stay put, Taryn. If Al Gore is right, you may wind up with those warm winters again right there in Chicago soon enough!

    In my experience, people who romanticize Midwest winters are mostly those who have never lived through them. When I moved from Chicago to SoCal area a few years ago, I didn’t realize just how nice it would be to have no winter. Now my family and I pop back there for a Christmas visit with the various grandparents, have a blast, freeze our butts off, and come home. Nothing like seeing the plane’s engines blow up the snow as you escape arctic conditions, with that old song California Dreamin’ in my thoughts….”I’d be safe and warm, if I was in L.A…”

  9. We had a bit of a blizzard here in Kansas last week–not a big one (only 5 inches of snow), but bigger than they typically get in any given winter; Wichita, KS, is apparently far enough south that those famous Great Plains storms everyone hears about have weakened by the time they reach us. I’m riding my bike to work these days, so I was grateful that we were no longer living in Illinois, as we were last year.

    As for Christmas…well, for a long time I believed that, as enjoyable as I’m sure Christmases must be in Austin, TX, or the Bay Area, the New-England/Northern-European shapings of the holiday in our collective imagination are just too firm and too truthful to entirely escape; hence, I figured Christmas in warm climates just couldn’t be quite what it is elsewhere. But then, last year I had an interview in Riverside, CA, just before Christmas, and waking up early one morning, I spent an hour walking around the downtown, with wreaths and Christmas lights on the orange trees, and Ray Charles and Tony Bennett being pumped through loudspeakers on the square. And I thought to myself: you know, this works. There is a kind of holiday spirit which can take root in warm winter climes. Not to say it always works–the idea of cotton sheets on the lawn to look like snow is just ridiculous–and I prefer being in a climate with bit of an actual winter, but I can see some people pulling off Christmas in the warm weather it pretty well.

  10. Taryn, you will not be sorry on Christmas Eve when little white flakes are gently covering everything! :)

    I think the secret to living in a cold climate and enjoying life comes down to clothes and activity. Make sure you have warm boots, warm socks, a good pair of longjohns, hat, mitts, etc. A good long coat to keep out that wind! (Starting to sound like my mom, but it’s true!) Going out not dressed properly = misery. Also, if you can find something fun to do outside, that makes a big difference — cross country skiing and snowshoeing have made a big difference in how I enjoy my winters.

    Good luck!

  11. Melissa De Leon Mason says:

    Oooh, I feel your pain! We got quite a bit of that Chicago storm here in South Bend, although not as much snowfall. The bitter air just cuts right through you. I’m counting the days until we fly back to Texas for Christmas.

    Of course I complained about the lack of seasons while growing up in South Texas and longed for that white Christmas, but as soon as I realized that snow is not just pretty white fluff but sharp mean micro ice balls of death, I changed my mind. Give me my perma-summer or give me death! (or at least seasonal affective disorder)

  12. If you think December in Chicago is dismal, wait until the third week of February!

    Having lived in Chicago during the two winters that set total snowfall records (77″ in 77-78 and 83″ in 78-79–see, I still remember how much, after all these years!), I don’t feel too sorry for you.

    On the other hand, I’m happy to be in New York where the winters are balmy in comparison.

  13. “White Christmas” never meant anything to me growing up in San Diego. Now that I’ve lived through a couple, it still means nothing. Beautiful on Christmas means 75 degrees with a blue sky, a Christmas you can spend outside without getting bundled up. I’m sorry you’ve left your green Christmas. After this morning in D.C., I’m glad I’ll be back in San Diego for Christmas :).

  14. Does this mean your Pro-global warming now? You sound like the person in the SNL debate that took the position that it IS AWESOME.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    I still romanticize four seasons and winters with actual snow. But then I grew up in northern Illinois, so it is what I know.

    I think you have to keep in mind the words of the BoM that there must needs be an opposition in all things. It is the cold and the snow outside that make that fire and hot cup of cocoa so delectable inside, whether you’re reading, listening to music or watching a football game–or making out, for that matter. Doing almost anything by the fire on a cold winter’s day is my definition of bliss.

  16. Welcome to the Jungle, baby! The cold one :)

  17. raised in san diego, spent one bitterly cold winter (read: october through the first week of december) on the east coast, spent several years in hawai’i, and now in socal. i used to long for snow. now? i’m wondering how we’ll ever make it through this amazingly cold winter. IT IS BELOW 70 DEGREES, PEOPLE! in hawai’i, that means you break out the down comforter and sweaters. i’m forever cold and i’m not used to having to wear appropriate clothing, let alone closed-toed shoes! what? no sundresses and slippers for church in january?! how will we ever survive?!?!

    move somewhere warm. you just crank the a/c down and curl up with a blankie and cocoa and exercise your imagination!

  18. Thanks, everyone, for your sympathy and advice. Except you, Stapley, you’re just trying to scare me :).