Get ready for snow on Christmas, everyone. It’s coming, says … my 3-year-old.
Without snow on Christmas, he posits, how will Santa Claus be able to come and deliver our presents?
The unestablished correlation between frozen precipitation and flying reindeer notwithstanding, I’ve tried to explain to him that we live in Atlanta, where the climate is warm and he has a better chance of hearing Santa up on the rooftop than of seeing snow on the ground. It doesn’t help my argument that it did snow on Christmas Day 2010 in Atlanta — and more heavily in Dalton, where we were that day — which is one of the two Christmases he can at least kind of remember. Nor does the phrase “first time that’s happened since 1882” mean much to him.
Based on that one time, I would love for it to be traditional here to have snow on Christmas (and only on Christmas; family and employment aren’t the only reasons we live in the South). It proved to me a white Christmas is truly worth dreaming of.
Reality being what it is, I recently went for the next-best thing. He and I watched the classic “Frosty the Snowman” TV special. The one narrated by Jimmy Durante that first aired 43 years ago.
There must have been some magic in that old cel-animation method they found. For when I placed it before his eyes, they began to dance around.
My son has watched newer, flashier cartoons and other animated shows. Within a few years, he might well find the 1969 “Frosty” as hokey and dated in appearance as it is.
But for 25 minutes on one rainy Sunday afternoon, he was practically spellbound. Snuggled up with him on the couch, watching him watch intently and giggle at the very silliest parts, so was I.
I’m not sure what turns a bit of pop culture into a cultural phenomenon, or something done a few times into a tradition. I just know the latter, especially, is important.
We didn’t stay up one evening to watch “Frosty” on network television, the only option for most of my childhood. Our DVD copy renders it on-demand, and our big, flat HDTV displays it in a way that’s downright cineplex-esque compared to the bulkier, smaller-screened set I grew up watching.
I don’t think the technology matters, which is a good thing given how fast it changes. I’m not even sure the content matters, although my wife and I certainly are trying to build our young family’s traditions, particularly those at Christmastime, around things more substantive, more meaningful, more divine, than a snowman who’s alive as he could be.
Otherwise, there wouldn’t be much in this world that lasts. The disruptive forces that shape what’s fashionable at the moment would rule above all else.
I think — I hope — what matters most is that there’s something we can share, something that we and our elders, or we and our children, can agree to call ours. Time will tell if I’ve gotten it right.
If so, it implies the need for some intentionality and some consistency in our relationships, two things that seem to be in less and less supply for more and more people. That part is missed, I think, by both those who are always looking ahead to the next big thing and those who cleave too tightly to things slipping away.
(Note: I’ll be out of the office until the new year and, as usual, comments will be in moderation while I’m away. I hope all of you have a merry Christmas and a joyous start to 2013. See you then.)
– By Kyle Wingfield