We went to the local Carols by Candlelight on Saturday night.
My girl sang with her school choir, which of course made me cry. I snuggled in my camping chair and cheered on the dancing girls and sang some carols, and we bought junk food and said hi to people and marveled again at how everybody seems to know everybody else in Tasmania. We went home at half past eight while it was still broad daylight, even though I’d only sung a few carols really and it was still nowhere dark enough for people to light their candles. I was tired. It’d been a big day.
It’s occurred to me a lot over this Christmas lead-up season that part of what we enjoy as part of our celebration of anticipation (think about that one) isn’t part of our Christmas at all: snow. We love snow! We all send Christmas cards (well, if we have school age kids then THEY send Christmas cards) with pictures of snowmen and snowy windows with candles in them, and small children playing in the snow. It’s a particularly Northern-Hemisphere thing, yes, but we love it. We all dream, somewhere in the deep recesses of our brains, of having a White Christmas.
And candles. We love candles! All across Australia it seems we love our Carols by Candlelight, and we huddle up in our parkas and light our candles and eat our picnics and sing Christmas carols about…snow. It’s as much part of Christmas tradition as Boxing Day cricket and planning a camping trip over New Years’ Here in Tassie, because we’re so far south, it didn’t get dark until nearly 9pm on Saturday night so we have to wait a fair while to experience the magic of those candles (oh, oh! Priceless anecdote…at our Church Christmas celebration service yesterday all the kids sang Silent Night holding plastic battery-powered candles, and one little boy discovered the magic of how when you put it up your nose and turn it on it makes your nose glow. Yeah!), and on my way home I thought about my Northern Hemisphere friends, and how early it would be dark for them at this time, and how much they must love coming around for the evening with all their community in their local parks and pulling out their picnics and camping chairs and singing carols around their candles…in the snow.
And then I got it.
Snow doesn’t make my Northern Hemisphere friends feel festive at all. From what I can tell it makes them feel cold and miserable. Snow is cold. Sitting around on a camping chair at the local park at eight thirty at night is cold, and it’s SUMMER! Most of my Northern Hemisphere friends, it seems, view snow as some kind of awful endurance experience, and seem to dread its coming. Not here.
It never occurred to me before that Carols by Candlelight may be a particularly Australian tradition. Is it? It may never have occurred to my Northern Hemisphere friends (except for the ones I’ve stayed with who have witnessed me lose my head in joy over the white stuff falling) that snow is some kind of idealised Christmas dream in Australia (only on the 25th though thanks. We want it to be hot again on Boxing day so we can have a barbecue and watch the cricket thanks very much). Snow is something we anticipate, even though the reality is something quite different. Much like a young girl who dreams of wearing stiletto heels, until, as an adult, she has to wear them for hours at a time and longs to kick back in her sneakers like when she was a kid.
I know this. I still don’t care. I still love snow at Christmas.
What about you? Have you ever idealised something only to find out that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be? Do you dream of a White Christmas too, or do you think that just for once a Christmas in Summer would be rather grand? Happy Christmas my friends, wherever you are!