Snow and I have always had a stormy relationship. As a Portland native, I’m familiar with the dark goat-paths we all slip and slide over when the snowplows pile the vile stuff too high. Walking home one January, legendary Portland millionaire J.B. Brown died after slipping on an icy patch of sidewalk, no doubt trimmed with lovely snow.
By April, snow and I are so over. I find myself looking at snow/weight calculators on the internet just so I can brag about how much snow I’ve shoveled. Because by then I’m tired of saying, “Cold enough for you?” Besides, I grew up shoveling driveways.
But once again, absence has made the heart grow fonder. I just caught myself oddly humming “White Christmas.” Surprise: Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” is still the best-selling single of all time, according to Wikipedia and Guinness (both the beer and the book)–in spite of the preciousness. In spite of how the two words in the two-word title invite reflection. Words do matter. Over 100 million copies of Crosby’s cover have sold.
To qualify for such a Christmas, I say snow must be falling or sticking by the end of the 25th. Melbourne, Australia, tried to sneak on the list in 2011 because of a wicked, bright, and lustrous hailstorm. Sorry, mates. Who else is in the running? According to the National Climatic Data Center, Albuquerque has a three-percent likelihood of a white Christmas this year. Portland, Oregon, has a two-percent chance on December 25, Miami one-percent. Ditto for Los Angeles. Vancouver, with its palm trees on the Pacific, checks in at 10 percent, Toronto 46 percent.
If you think I take this too personally, I do. Decades ago, my wife Nancy made me promise that her first holiday in Maine would be a snowy Christmas Eve. I reluctantly agreed. What was the big deal? I already knew snow wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
But for all my cynicism, I couldn’t change the sparkle in her eyes. I never have. “Just that first snow,” she said. “I don’t know why I love it. It puts us all in a movie, just for a second.” I grew wary of her appreciation for it. Nancy’s sense of snow was simply superior to mine. For her, it was somehow…musical.
I should have known. Snow is what you bring to it. A roaring fire. Families snuggling by the window to catch sight of the first flakes. Sharing the season’s first cup of cocoa with someone you love. And here we go again. My snow memories aren’t all bad. Actually, my profit from a winter’s shoveling of my neighbor’s driveway allowed me to go to Pine Tree Shopping Center and plunk down the cold cash for a Realistic, professional-grade, battery-operated tape-recorder for taping The Monkees and my older sister’s phone conversations. The scene I wish I had in a snow globe–my son proudly building his first snowman on the sugary side yard of a fisherman’s shack, our first home on Underwood Road in Falmouth, our collie dancing around him. And just like that, I’m dreaming.
Portland’s chance this year? Eighty-three percent.