Many of you know that I’m fond of these colder temperatures. I like to think that my time in the Arctic toughened me up enough that the far milder Maritime winters are more manageable now, but really it has more to do with me disliking the heat.
I get a lot of flack from my “summer friends,” the sun worshippers who are most comfortable on a beach in 30-degree weather. Just to be clear, I have absolutely nothing in common with those people. Although the March to October major league baseball season, my absolutely favourite time of the year, falls within this window. I am not crazy about high temperatures, humidity, camping, sweating, beaches, or any of the popular activities of fair weather. Give me 10 feet of snow over that, any day.
(Did you know that the Inuit people have hundreds of words for snow? Each word describes a different kind – some words refer to its shape, the size of the flakes, the speed it’s falling from the sky, even how it looks on the ground. Add that trivia to the long list of things I took from the Arctic.)
Here in Atlantic Canada our snow is usually quite heavy. Seldom do we get that light, flurry, pretty snow that’s enjoyed by friends in more continental climates. As Cindy Day once told me, at -2 degrees, an average shovelful of snow can weigh 15 to 20 kilograms, and shovelling for around 15 minutes can have you lifting a couple of tonnes of weight. I guess it’s no mystery why some people prefer the beach.
But no matter how we wish the winter away, the Christmas season is quickly coming isn’t it?
I’ll admit, I was a little beside myself with shock when I flipped my work calendar to November. It’s hard to believe how quickly this fall has come and gone. The first quarter of 2019 took seemingly 138 years to pass, and then BAM! Thanksgiving. Only after American Thanksgiving and the lunacy of Black Friday do we really start to get bombarded with holiday talk, though.
When I was a kid, the day after American Thanksgiving was exciting, but not because of the shopping. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if Black Friday even existed back then. But the reason why I loved that weekend was that people would watch the Macy’s parade on TV and maybe put up their Christmas lights, particularly if it was mild. The weather is crisp around that time, and there is undoubtedly a chill in the air, but many mid- to late-November days still bring with them not-so-awful temperatures and beautiful, “long sleeve shirt only” outdoor weather.
The popular time to put up lights would be that weekend, though there would be some stragglers who waited a touch longer – the day of Christmas Daddies, maybe – especially if Thanksgiving weekend happened to be cold.
How early is too early, though, to put up Christmas lights? And what factors into your decision when doing so? Do you have a particular tradition that you get together and put them up on a particular day? Or, do you just wait until the weather is right?
If you ever want to start a giant, nasty, polarizing fight on Facebook, just ask those questions. If there is one certainty in life, it’s that people will fight on-line about whether or not it’s disrespectful to put up Christmas decorations before Remembrance Day. I’ve never had a horse in that race because I don’t decorate until sometime much further down the line than the 11th, but I have friends on both sides of the argument. Some, members of the military included, maintain that it’s disrespectful and people should hold off. Some others, members of the military included, think one has nothing to do with the other and people should decorate when they feel like it. I can certainly see both points.
The wonderful thing about Canada is that people have the freedom to make ridiculous, confusing choices, even if I don’t understand them. Recently a Halifax radio host was given a pretty hard time on the air for putting up a Christmas tree and blasting holiday tunes two weeks before Halloween. “Who does that?” a caller asked, incredulous.
She does, and here was her reasoning: it’s getting dark after lunch, and temperatures are tumbling, so if it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, why not? White, twinkling lights make her happy. Every Nova Scotian has their own unique winter weather coping skills, and if hers includes Joy to the World, who are we to judge?