What’s So Special About Snow?
It’s supposed to snow today. Well, at least it was five days ago when they started predicting it. None of our meteorologist friends, including our favorite Extravaganza man Brian B., were completely certain, even from the beginning – maybe a dusting, maybe up to two inches… maybe nothing. I secretly was and still am sorta hoping it will, at least a little bit.
I know, I know, it makes everything more difficult and people have so many places to go this time of year to shop and attend concerts and parties and when you throw in a little snow, especially since we haven’t had much for a couple of years, it takes everyone more than a little while to remember how to drive in it. Bah humbug! BUT, it also changes the world, I know you know that. It covers everything with a layer of frozen crystally white stuff that, while we say it’s a pain, we try to artificially replicate on the branches of our Christmas trees, in the corners of our windows (I know, right? There’s actually a powder spray for that!) and EVERY Christmas special on TV, at least the wonderfully sappy ones, end with snow beginning to fall on the couple who finally find their way to love and each other. And we LOVE – well, I do – our snow globes that we shake around so a blizzard happens in the miniature shrink wrap village inside the globe. The weather people have backed off the prediction now; I suppose it’s for the best.
But do you remember? Is that part of the attraction for the first snowfall of the winter… you know, remembering? When I was a kid, we lived about 10 miles northwest of Almena and up on a hill. When it snowed, it was often horizontal, but sometimes, sometimes it just came straight down in big old flakes and heavy enough that you couldn’t see the corner just a quarter mile east of our farm. Those were the best.
In the beginning of their farm life, my parents planted a windbreak of trees all along the west and north sides of our farmstead in a double row, and my goodness the snow would pile up in the windbreak between the row of trees. Sometimes it would be waist deep, well, waist deep for an 8-10 year old. My mom would help bundle me up like the Michelin Man and the adventures I had in that windbreak! I was Sir (or Madame I suppose) Edmund Hillary reaching the top of Mt. Everest against all odds with the wind blowing snow in my face with my trusty Sherpa, Snoop (our St. Bernard). Yup, I had a Snoop dog before the rapper craze – always a bit ahead of my time.*snort* Or I would fall on my stomach and tunnel my way toward trapped climbers who had fallen into a crevasse and would not survive the night.
Then there was the sledding. Should I tell you the story of my sister convincing me to get on our silver aluminum saucer sled and let her push me over the edge of about a 10-12 foot drop toward a ditch on the road that ran by our farm? And that I might have landed against a tree hard enough that it folded that aluminum saucer sled around me like a taco? I wasn’t the only ornery one of the Roberts’ girls. When one of my great-nephews convinces his youngest brother to lay flat on the ground between two ramps while he jumps over him with his scooter, maybe he comes by that naturally. His grandma only appears to be the innocent one…
Somehow when our vision and perspective of the world changes, it creates the opportunity of seeing differently the life we’re living now, perhaps from a past that helped bring us to this place. And if a layer of snow reminds us of a softer and more simple time, maybe that’s not such a bad thing in this season of the year, in this chapter in history, in this particular world that we share together.
The clip from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is about my favorite, ranking right up there with Linus reciting the story of Jesus’ birth in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Both are moments when we are reminded of opportunities when life and love and a little tenderness overwhelms the mean, the belittling, and the angry. The Grinch and Charlie Brown are old school cartoons, and Charles Schulz and Dr. Seuss are authors no longer with us. And yet the remembering of their words and the illustrations of their work have reached the place of timelessness. That rarefied air which crosses the boundaries of generations to remind us of our common humanity and, if I might be so bold, our common hope for one another and for the world.
So in a few weeks it’s going to be all about baby Jesus. You know, the donkey and Mary and Joseph, and no room in the inn and the shepherds and the cattle lowing (mooing?) and the angels and Herod and the magi with all the gold and frankincense and myrrh and the star in the east and the sheep and little drummer boy – um, okay maybe I pushed one step too far.
And what does all that old story about baby Jesus get us? A life born in all the fragile vulnerability of authentic humanity. A child raised to play and learn and grow and love. An adult defined by feeding and healing and loving and forgiving. A death that appears from the outset to show that the mean and the belittling and the angry win. And finally, life and love and maybe even a little tenderness given eternal breath for all.
And what does all that get us? Maybe simply that what we do in this world, when we’re willing to see everything a little bit differently, we do in remembrance.
Ah well… Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…