"I'm Dreaming of a Rainy Christmas", Mississippi's Holiday Song
My Christmases aren't white--they're often wet!
I grew up in the southern section of Mississippi, USA, and have lived a lot of my life in this area. Even when I lived in Louisiana or Texas, I often returned to Mississippi for Christmas. During these many decades, at no time do I recall experiencing a snowy Christmas in this familiar place, such as the white one Bing Crosby sang about in the classic 1942 movie, Holiday Inn . The song White Christmas was the most popular tune from that movie, and remains a standard during the Christmas season even today.
As a girl, I felt incredibly cheated never to have snow at Christmas like I saw in movies and read about in books. Both sets of my grandparents lived close by, so there was no “….over the river and through the woods….” Well, there were some woody areas along the roadway to be traversed, but no fluffy snow clung to the tree limbs. If “rip-off” had been a part of the lexicon in those days, I feel certain I would have used that phrase when alluding to my annual Christmas weather. It just didn't seem fair to a child with a vivid imagination.
Wet? Non-stop rain for days? Soggy lawn and tracking in mud on one’s shoes? Now, that’s the kind of Christmas that comes to mind when I think of all my Mississippi Christmases. The images of yesteryear holidays are conjured up by the rain that often begins falling here before Christmas Eve and continues into December 25 and beyond. Now, this is like the Christmas of my memories. Rain, rain and more rain!
I must be candid and state that, even with days of rain, when temperatures hit the 40s and 50s, Fahrenheit, it seems more in keeping with winter (if not that “winter wonderland” of another holiday song) than many past Christmas weeks that required air conditioning to endure. Sultry humid weather does not fit the picture Bing’s Christmas dreaming brings to mind.
Sometimes temperatures soar into the upper 70s here in late December, signaling the imminence of thunderstorms and, at least once within my memory, more than 30 years ago, a severe tornado that hit much too close to where I lived and caused a great deal of damage just before the holiday. That was a sad Christmas for many of my neighbors.
In my forties and early fifties, I lived in the Dallas suburbs, where it does sometimes snow (or sleet, which at least creates white icicles) at Christmastime. The ironic thing is that, every time it snowed while I made my home there, I’d gone “back home” (read: Mississippi) to visit family. The snow or ice always melted by the time I returned to Texas.
I must confess it occasionally sleets and sometimes even snows lightly in Jackson, Mississippi, these events usually separated by a span of several years. It does not, however, snow in December, when we might be able to share the White Christmas experience. The coldest days of the year in my neck of the woods occur in late January or February, and those months are the ones most likely to provide frozen precipitation. The snow, if it sticks at all, is usually measured in three or four inches, and more often than not, melts beneath a suddenly appearing sun by afternoon.
Do I seem to be complaining? Let me hasten to assure you this is not so. As an older adult, I’m quite content to stay indoors when the weather outside is wet or cold, especially if rain and lower temperatures are combined. I enjoy snuggling under a warm throw as I read a book or watch a movie and nibble on popcorn. If it gets cold enough, I may even light a wood fire in my under-used fireplace.
Shoveling snow is not a part of life where I live
The white stuff's pretty--in a picture!
In my lifetime, I’ve enjoyed only one White Christmas, and that was while visiting in a northern clime at the Yuletide. The picture postcard beauty of the scenery was undeniable. The reality of snow in climates where the snow doesn't melt for months must lose its charm as layers are added with each new snowfall until the surface is treacherously frozen. I would not find such conditions as charming as that picture postcard or even a few days spent enjoying other people’s snow. Living in the southern USA, I’ve never had to shovel snow off my sidewalk or been snowbound due to a blizzard.
I've seen snow when traveling, and It is, without a doubt, a pretty sight when big snowflakes are thickly falling. The powdery whiteness soon blankets everything and transforms the ordinary into a fantasy world. Unfortunately, late spring snowfalls in Denver or Nashville simply don't equate to snow at Christmastime...the "White Christmas" of which Bing Crosby crooned.
I’m not really complaining about my rainy Christmases, just relating a fact of life in the Deep South. If I want to look at snow, I can watch one of the many Christmas movies that feature the fluffy white stuff. Photographs of snow-covered landscapes abound on the Internet just waiting for me to peruse and enjoy vicariously. I can be content with pictures of snow, since a white Christmas simply is not part of life where I live. That's okay....
I always check the weather forecast for the week, in hope sunshine is due to put in an appearance in my neighborhood before the big day. When that happens, it’s good news for all the kids who find new bikes or scooters under the Christmas tree. The sun also allows my soggy lawn to dry.
It may look like snow, but . . .
By the way, the snow in the movie Holiday Inn isn’t real, it’s a movie illusion. Much of the movie was filmed on a Hollywood sound stage, with the Village Inn Lodge at Monte Rio, California, cast as the story’s Holiday Inn, which was supposed to be in Connecticut. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was actually the result of artifice. Tons of artificial snow—in lieu of the real thing—were used in the filming.
“Happy New Year, Y’all!”
NOTE: As I wrote this, eight days before Christmas 2012 in Jackson, Mississippi, the rain was pouring down. The ten-day extended weather forecast promised--you guessed it! Rain, rain and, of course, more rain! Once more the only snow we Mississippians saw for Christmas was illustrated on greeting cards and the settings of holiday movies on TV. Some things rarely change...and that's okay.
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© 2011 Jaye Denman
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