'Tis the Season?

I didn't grow up in the snow and I can't even remember a measly rainstorm on either Christmas or Thanksgiving my entire youth. Maybe that's me just projecting, though. It must have rained at least once.

Born in New Jersey I resented (a little bit) my parents for moving me to San Diego when I was two and depriving me of snow and autumn leaves and weather. And to this day, I have a bitter taste in my mouth when I hear the words:

"'Tis the season"

Because "season" assumes that there are indeed seasons to speak of. Weather change. A sudden nip in the air.

But for native Southern Californians, our idea of "snow" is the frosting on the windows of fast-food restaurants. Our seasons defined by the assortment of Hallmark cards featured in the holiday isle.

Some nights it was cold enough for a fire but usually it was only because we begged for one. The winter lows in San Diego mean low 60's and on Christmas Eve, we paraded around the house in boxer shorts and t-shirts, instead of the fuzzy pajamas and and scarves so publicized on TV commercials.

Fast forward to present day. Still rooted in So-Cal and Hi, how ya doing...

I always promised myself that as an adult (which I suppose it's time to call myself) I would be living somewhere with seasons. Southern California is not romantic. It's pleasant and temperate and the weather is always the same, but for a writer, a romantic, someone who is happiest in the rain, I always thought I would end up somewhere with a rusty-hinged window sill and plenty of blankets in the closet. Somewhere by a fireplace. With snow-boots by the door.

I own nearly three-dozen coats and close to a dozen pairs of boots, many of which I have never worn before. When I moved to London for a few months I brought most of them with me. It snowed there for two days and although I complained of cold to the locals, I was secretly smiling inside and hoping the snow wouldn't melt so fast.

Because there is no such thing as seasons in Southern California. There is no such thing as snow and leaves that change color and crunch under your flip-flops, which is what I am wearing as I type this. Flip-flops and a wife-beater in late November. At 10pm at night.

Today the thermostat read 93 degrees and after about twenty minutes of running around outside with Archer we had to rest our sweaty selves under the ceiling fan where we panted like dogs until cool down. Sweating our asses off were we. In mid-November. Four days before Thanksgiving.

Wednesday afternoon we leave for Boulder, CO, where my Aunt and Uncle own a condo and where we will be staying for Thanksgiving and through the weekend. I have been checking the weather every day, keeping my fingers crossed for snow, or if nothing else: cold. Something other than this. So I can justify my scarves and the Dolce and Gabbana gloves I bought on a whim years ago and have thus far only worn driving my ex boyfriend's convertible. (I once insisted we drive all the way home from Vegas with the top down in the middle of winter, just to feel the chill.)

The other day, I almost bought snow from a "snow-vendor" at The Grove. He was selling synthetic snow, non-toxic for the holidays.

"Feel it!" He said. "It even feels cold to the touch!"

"Wow! It DOES feel cold to the touch! What a wonderful invention!"

I was sold. I held my snowy-hand out to Archer who grabbed its contents and poured it in his mouth.

"Oh shit!"

I tried to get as much as I could out of his mouth. He smiled.

"No snow for you, ma'am. Your kid's a liability. No snow for you."

"But? But!? He's fine, sir! Please? Just one bag of snow?"

"No. Please leave ma'am. Please just leave."

You probably think I'm crazy. Unless you're from here. Unless you've been born and raised and spent many an hour with Bing Crosby on repeat. "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas..." and then gone to sleep to really dream it.

Because I have never had one. And it always made me sad, resentful of Christmas mornings and Thanksgiving afternoons trying to bundle up against the chill of air-conditioning and lemonade. And now that I am a mother there is a small part of me that feels sad for Archer, that maybe he won't get to experience the seasons. Leaf-crunching and snow-angels and the like.

I digress. It isn't snowing in Boulder, Colorado and the forecast suggests highs in the 60's which although feels more like Fall than our endless summer, isn't exactly the snow-garden I imagined it would be.

"I wish it could snow here one day," I say to Hal.
"No you don't. The snow sucks," he says back. "It gets in the way and you have to shovel every morning just to get your car out of the driveway and it's a real pain in the ass."

But he grew up in New York, a stone's throw from where I was born in New Jersey. Where it snowed all winter long. Where I pined to be.

Of course I had a wonderful childhood and loved growing up in a So-Cal beach town and wouldn't trade it in for the world, except that every year, around this time I wish that I had some memory of this:

And so I make a pact to myself that even if it doesn't snow in Colorado. Or in Los Angeles (because seriously, who am I kidding, right?) that one day I will be able to bring snow home to my family. Somehow. Some way. Snow.



Unknown | 2:47 AM

I was born and brought up in LA and went to college in Boulder, so I feel uniquely qualified to tell you that you're looking for snow in all the wrong places. Snow in Boulder melts too fast to even have snow removal equipment. Yes it does snow, and it looks like somebody dropped a big package of powdered sugar over the flatirons, but it doesn't last. Now, if you REALLY want snow, I can recommend a few places. Buffalo NY, for example, is almost always inundated with snow. Minnesota, Michigan, and much of the midwest gets a lot of snow. And of course, in my neck of the woods, we usually have a lot of snow as well. However, this year global warming caught up with New England and today was the first time I put on a coat all fall. It wasn't even that cold, either.

How about going to Big Bear. I learned to ski there, and it had great snow. Or Tahoe. It's not that far and they have plenty of snow. When I was a kid we had a condo in Tahoe Keys Estates and went skiing there a lot over long weekends.

And once, many many years ago, probably before you were born, it snowed in LA. Honest, it did! We were leaving that day for a winter holiday in British Colombia, and my father, Boston born and bred, almost had a heart attack when they made him put chains on the car right outside of LA County.

Unknown | 4:27 AM

Ah, Boulder Colorado. Beautiful contry if you can stand the locals.

Take a drive up into the Rockies and you will get your snow. Hell my ex-boyfriend once did a photo shoot for Burton in July up there.

I grew up in Phoenix and know what you mean about wanting to have a "white Christmas". I lived in Denver for 7 years and the one thing I learned to hate very quickly was the snow. Hal is right. It's beautiful for about 2 hours then it's an incubus that you just wish would go away already.

Meanie | 4:48 AM

Welllll, I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum in Ottawa, Canada, where I am dreading 4 months of tugging snowsuits/mitts/hats/boots/scarfs on two little gaffers under the age of five, only to be told "Mommeeee I have to pee" within five minutes of being outside. Grass is always greener as they say! I have to admit though that a white Christmas is beautiful.
Love your blog.

Fairly Odd Mother | 5:39 AM

OH, poor girl. Just this morning, I lifted my 3yo to the window and said, 'one morning we will wake up to see snow on the ground'. I can't wait. Yes, it can be a pain and I haven't skied since having kids almost 6 years ago, but I L-O-V-E the snow. If only it could be about 60 degrees when it snows b/c the cold I ain't so good with anymore. I'm in New England but have been to Buffalo in winter and, man, THAT is snow.

I'm wishing you a White Thanksgiving in Boulder.

Binky | 7:04 AM

The grass is always greener on the other side...but not until springtime, when the crusty sheets of brown ice melt off onto bright lawns and one can wax nostalgic about that first, fluffy snow of the season. I guess the holidays are always about nostalgia. Even those of us sitting inside on Xmas Eve while snow piles up at the door end up thinking back to the time it snowed even MORE or was even COLDER. That being said, I do love the holidays for the feeling of families coming in from the cold to warm up, together. I have a lot of faith that if anyone can make it happen, you can.

Amy | 7:51 AM

I don't mind the cold so much, I just really hate wearing a coat. I hate being bundled and the process of bundling the kids up to go to the grocery store sucks.

Crunchy leaves and that leafy smell at the park with a crisp breeze on a nice sunny day in October - now that TOTALLY rocks.

Jonathon Morgan | 8:38 AM

now that I'm an psuedo-Texan (Austin), I'm always bemonaing the lack of seasons. I am SO PUMPED that Little-E is going to experience snow this Christmas at her grandparents' house in Cleveland.

One downer? It is IMPOSSIBLE to find winter coats in Austin that'll stand up a Cleveland snowstorm.

I'm still pumepd.

metro mama | 8:55 AM

I would kill to be wearing my flips flops and wife-beater right now.

Anonymous | 9:22 AM

As a Jersey transplant to LA, I, too, pine for air so cold that it makes your nose turn red and run. It was 95 yesterday in my part of LA. A record. Oy.

My first year here (7 years ago) the JCC on Olympic at Fairfax trucked in tons of snow from the mountains for the little ones to play with. It was amazing. It was in January, though. As of yet, I can't see snow on the mountains. :(

Anonymous | 9:42 AM

Hal is right. Snow is pretty until you have to don your coat and boots just to go get your mail, where people on the roads drive two ways: scared shitless of the white stuff at 20 mph on the highway or 70 mph like it's July. Snow is fun, until you fall off your sled and slam face first into a drift of it, sputtering and crying over the sting as you drag you now-frozen scarf off your skin before the ice crystals on it burn your skin. Snow and cold is great until you realize your ever-present winter cold has frozen in your nose.

Greener grass (whiter grass?) indeed. Not to be such a sourpuss, and I can totally see where the endless summer would get old. But snow ain't all it's cracked up to be. It's fun to play in for awhile, but its aftermath is really hard to live with for longer than a couple days. I wish you a white Christmas/Hannukah, and a white Thanksgiving. If only for a few hours so you get your fix and can have the fun without all the clean up.

Chicky Chicky Baby | 9:49 AM

The holidays are the only times that I enjoy snow. I think I may be the only New Englander that doesn't ski, ice skate or enjoy sledding. Although, snow shoeing is kinda fun. With that said, I am looking forward to seeing my daughter in her snowsuit, bundled up on a sled with us pulling her through the snowy streets of our neighborhood. Norman Rockwell, eat your heart out.

Anonymous | 9:57 AM

I'm in Alberta, Canada and we've had snow for a month. No lie. It's lovely, but only because I don't have to shovel and my little truck gets to live in the garage so I don't have to dig it out every time I want to go somewhere. The baby hates her bulky winter coat, though, and I'm always losing my gloves. Sometimes, it would be nice to be wearing flip-flops in November. Maybe I need a vacation.

P.S. Not sure if I've commented here before, but I love your blog :)

Anonymous | 10:01 AM

awww sister, you need to come visit me in Michigan when it starts getting ridiculously snowy out. I get so excited every time i walk over to the music school because it is cold outside. I think that the high 30s is warm now. Come visit!!! And it snowed yesterday...kinda slushy snow, but alas....snow.

lovve you and see you in two days!!!! <3<3

rachie roo

Anonymous | 11:36 AM

I grew up in the LA area and now live in Orange County. I lived in southern France for awhile which had a very similar climate to So Cal most of the year. It was slightly cooler in summer and snowed once or twice a winter but usually was just icy and windy. Very windy - the Mistral is the craziest wind I know of. My family is originally from Illinois, just northwest of Chicago, and even people I knew proud of being from the Windy City were stunned and speechless by the power of the Mistral wind in southern France.

At any rate, I never missed seasons. Maybe a couple times as a kid, but as I got older, my mother would tell us stories about Illinois and show us photographs and then my parents would drive up to Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear once or twice a winter so that we could put snow into a cooler and bring it home to look at for a day or two. We used to go up for colored leaves sometimes too. Even though we only had periodic "seasons" because of these activities, I think my parents did the best they could to provide them to us and that made all the difference. I even remember one winter when they saw the weather forecast at something like 40F one night, so my parents got some tinsel and decorated our tent and set us up outside in the backyard with warm sleeping bags, jackets, and scarves. Oh yeah, and disposable cameras. It was awesome!

Anyway, I think that most Angelinos really miss seasons in some fashion or another, but there are plenty of ways to give winter a snowy touch without standing in the middle of a blizzard.

SuperWife | 11:55 AM

Ironically, we had our first snow of the season (and we're in the lower mid-west) this morning. It was barely covering cars and just a dusting on the grass and bushes, but it was magical to see when I walked outside this morning. It's already gone and we're not likely to have more for weeks, but the coincidence of seeing this post today made me smile.

Anonymous | 1:49 PM

We don't get snow here either, just LOTS of rain! Vancouver is famous for it's rain... and we definitely get a lot of it.

Recently the rainstorms have been so bad that a lot of people haven't had electricity for over a week, and we haven't been able to drink the water for 6 days now because trees and mud fell into our reservoirs. So it's like showering in a mud pudddle... bleccch... Luckily it's getting better, but we'll see!

I grew up in Alberta, so I had the snow. When you've had to wait for the schoolbus in knee-deep snow, with freezing wind whipping over your face... you probably wouldn't miss it. ;)

Webmaster Melody | 2:15 PM

My opinion on snow is that it is only good for visiting, not living in. I freaked out this morning when it was 46 degrees. I nearly yelled at my husband "This is freaking FLORIDA! How dare it be so cold?" I say that every year.

Good luck with your white Christmas. Better you than me. :-)

Anonymous | 3:26 PM

My soggy, cold, webbed, Oregon feet kind of want to kick your ass right now. Enjoy the beach and the sun, Hal is 100% right, the snow is great in photos, but once you are out in it the romance wears off. But I romanticize the So-cal beach so I guess the grass is always greener. Though you do have a point about the boot options that come with the cold weather. I love me some yummy coats and leather boots.

apricoco | 3:35 PM

Florida checking in here. I know the feeling of wanting real seasons and snow. Really I do. We are having our first cold snap of the season (40's - 70's) and it is kind of nice. But I don't know if I would like to live with winter every year. It is nice to visit though. But, I digress. I know how you feel. Really. In So Fla we got nothin' as well.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Anonymous | 4:04 PM

greetings from NYC where we don't really wanna hear about your "it's just too warm here" problems!! Like somebody else said the grass is always greener...
if there was a way to make it snow on Christmas eve and morning with just enough time to go out and play, only to be mysteriously gone by the time I had to go back to work, well then I'd love it. i say crank up your a/c, make hot chocolate and decorate with holiday music playing. There is nothing better than that!


Unknown | 7:07 PM

I grew up in Southern California. i remember my dad making jokes about how nice and warm it was on Christmas. I wondered what the hell he was talking about. I think it must have 70 rather than 80 that day. BRRRR.

My husband is from Australia and I have to say Bondi Beach is the best place to spend a Christmas.

The good thing about Boulder is that it is always sunny. I hope you get snow and then sun.

Chris | 7:44 PM

I saw that fake snow at the mall the other day. Pretty cool stuff. But I'm hoping for the real thing this Xmas.

Awesome Mom | 8:07 PM

That was the thing I hated the most about living in San Diego. At least here in northern California we do get rain and chill to mark the change of seasons. We even have trees that change colors and drop leaves. I crave seasons in a big way.

Anonymous | 5:33 AM

Metro Mama and both live in Toronto, Canada. I am totally with her on her comment about wishing we could waear flip flops and wife beaters.(Although it has been really mild and not too cold here so far this November)

Anyway, I came here today because I found the perfect gift for Archer for Christmas.


Go here: http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2006/11/tattoo_kit_for.html?CMP=OTC-0D6B48984890

Anonymous | 5:36 AM

Let me try that again. I hate when links get cut off: tattoo kit for archer

Jo | 8:02 AM

After spending most of growing up years in Cali, and now living in Utah, I have grown to love the snow. Love the seasons, love the way the mountains right outside my window change from day to day and season to season. I am sympathatic to what you are missing. There is nothing like a crisp winter morning to make you long for summer!

Green | 10:48 AM

I grew up in NY, and let me tell you, now living in San Francisco, I really miss how leaves crunch in NY! You don't get that crunchy leafy goodness in the Bay Area.

I wish it snowed on Christmas. I'm Jewish, but believe Christmas = snow. That's how the world should be.

Then it should all melt before you have to go to work, so there's no getting up at 4:30 a.m. to shovel your car out of the driveway before work.