White Christmases

by Payton Aper, Blog Staff

Art by Barbara Sobczyńska on DeviantArt.

The older I get, the more I grow to sort of hate winter and dreadfully resemble most of the adults in my life. I didn’t get, as a kid, why my parents lamented the winter so much or complained about ice on the roads. I just liked Christmas, and playing in the snow until I sometimes got windburn, and lying down on my back to catch snowflakes on my tongue. In high-school, winter started to annoy me a bit more–I’d freak every time the ABS on my car kicked in, and dealt with constant dryness and dermatitis on my skin. But I still enjoyed skiing, going on walks near my house, and doing indoor training for soccer season. In college winters, I do basically none of those things, unless you count my miserable walk to classes. And so, as someone who’s spent basically their whole life in Michigan, I can now say that after 20 winters I’ve about had enough.

It probably goes hand-in-hand with all the disillusioning aspects of college and living on your own, that winter would appropriately become less enchanting and more annoying. You have to worry about heating bills and drafts, or driving to get groceries when the weather’s bad. You don’t have time to go on walks in the snow, or the money to ski somewhere that isn’t a converted downstate garbage hill. There is less snow and more slush, that sticks to the gaps under your boots and paints the sidewalks light brown. It gets dark at five pm, right around the time you start your homework. For me at least, winter directly challenges my ability to hold myself accountable and remain uncynical. I usually play holiday music right after Thanksgiving, but these past couple of years I just can’t bring myself to. For whatever reason, it doesn’t feel right. 

For one, it’s fifty degrees out, and my winter jacket is only a part-time aspect of my wardrobe. Until the second week of November it was up to 70 degrees out, which was as concerning as it was enjoyable. What a nice day out, I’d think as I left the house, before thinking about how I cannot remember a fall that’s ever been this warm. It’s a privilege, really, to have this interim between when you learn about climate change and when you actually see it happening. For me, this time frame spanned through my childhood and only ended a couple of years ago, when I noticed that there hadn’t been a white Christmas at my house in years. 

A combination of feeling too old to celebrate anything grounded in belief and weather that can hardly be described as wintery has really killed my holiday spirit. I know this sounds cynical, but it’s hard to jam out to Christmas music when it feels like early May outside. And I could argue with myself that the Mele Kelikimaka song exists for a reason, and that people from the Southern US have been doing this for ages, but that doesn’t really matter. Because Michigan weather is notoriously all over the place, and I’m sure our cold, miserable winter will come at some point, but this weather is seriously not normal. I know it, you know it, those poor confused squirrels on the diag know it too. And as much as I love summer fashion and the sun, I also rather loved my bubble of climate change illusion that I had growing up–that climate change was a real and serious issue, but that it would take forever to affect a place like Michigan. I thought this even as the North Pole was melting, and places were catching fire or flooding or otherwise succumbing to total chaos. As long as there were white Christmases to celebrate, I could keep watching the snowfall in my, infrastructured, intercontinental bubble. I was (and am) in for a pretty rude awakening. 

There’s a lot of facets in day-to-day life to distract us from climate change, or essentially any uncomfortable sociopolitical issue. It’s like hanging a wreath on your door when there’s salt and slush getting tracked into your foyer. As long as I have the privilege to shield myself from the worst of climate change and block out what’s happening everywhere else, it doesn’t feel weird to splurge on Black Friday shopping or enjoy my commercialized Christmas (I’m not a particularly religious person, but I am a consumer). I suppose that the older I get, the more I see, and the warmer it becomes, that mirage is getting harder and harder to uphold. The edge of my snowglobe is starting to crack, the iceberg is calving (literally), whatever metaphor you want to use. I just find that I’m struggling to buy into or believe in any of it, to see December as any different from another winter month. This is, almost certainly, a personal issue that has more to do with my own life than some cracking snowglobe. But it’s still a high of 56 degrees Fahrenheit tomorrow.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s