The weather has been a tad strange this year. It’s been warm for months. A balmy 15C or above since October – at least that’s how it feels. Next week it’s predicted to soar again, to a sizzling 16C
When I was at junior school, if you could play outdoors without your coat until the beginning of half term it was spoken of in awed tones.
I remember Guy Fawkes Nights where the front of your body facing the bonfire was almost melting and your back felt really cold.
Layer upon layer of hats, scarves, gloves, thermal vests and cardigans were worn.
Has anyone noticed this year how many hats and gloves are left on the shelves in stores – or is it just that I’m not buying any? Winter woollies used to be a natural gift, but the thought of them at the moment makes me feel as though I’m melting slowly.
As Christmas approached – and time may have altered this memory – it wasn’t a question of whether it would snow, but when.
The excited anticipation of perhaps receiving a new bicycle, was tempered with wanting to wake up to a winter wonderland on Christmas day, which would mean the chance of trying out a new cycle was much less likely.
Snow was always part of my childhood, whether myth or reality – even if the snowman made in the morning had melted by lunchtime.
From tales of Narnia and The Snow Queen to the more recent Snowman the mythology of Christmas is imbedded in our psyche. A covering of snow completes the picture for a traditional Christmas.
Travelling through the Yorkshire Dales one Easter there was still evidence of snow on the hills and the phrase ‘it’s a bit parky’ was heard more often I’m sure.
Although, before I get too carried away with the idea that the white Christmas and crisp winter mornings is the stuff of past legend, it’s only six years ago that we had the big freeze. It started around December 17, 2009 and carried on for over a month. There was major excitement when the temperature rose above freezing and the satellite maps of the UK showed the country as a shiny white island of snow.
No wonder weather is supposed to be our national obsession – it never does what you expect. Except when you have a job interview and you forget your umbrella, at which point it will rain heavily. There’s no-one describes ‘Christmas’ weather or captures the spirit of the season more than Charles Dickens.
In A Christmas Carol, first published in December 1843 the fog finds a way into every chink and keyhole and the houses across the courtyard appear like phantoms. You can feel the cold in your bones – miraculous writing.
Whatever the weather though I shall – like Scrooge – be keeping Christmas in my heart.