White as Snow

All I ever wanted for Christmas was six feet of snow. Well, not six feet exactly. That estimate is an exaggeration: a number to explain I want a lot of snow. It has been my wish every year for as long as I can remember. For a kid growing up in the Seattle area, a white Christmas would be a miracle. I wanted one, but knew the odds were as favorable as an actual fat man in a red suit shimmying down my chimney in the middle of the night to leave boxes adorned with festive wrapping and my name on every tag.

I blame music. When I was a little kid, we listened to Amy Grant's 1983 Christmas Album every year. My folks had it on vinyl, and it found a near permanent home in the record player from Thanksgiving until New Years Day. It was the only Christmas album they owned so we listened to it a lot. I still remember every song on it by heart and could sing along from Tennessee Christmas to Angels We Have Heard On High. From the album, my favorite song was her take on Sleigh Ride. Amy's version is the standard by which I judge any other artist's interpretation. I loved that song in an unrequited form. Sleigh rides were a foreign concept to us Seattleites. In the sea-level suburbs, snow was fleeting. It is difficult to snuggle up together like the birds of a feather in a horse drawn sleigh ride upon rain-slicked wet concrete. Yet that song built up within me a longing for winters where skis and snowshoes were commonplace. For magic falling as white crystals from a frozen sky.

We hear it on the radio every December. "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow." Or "The fire is slowly dying, my dear we're still good-byeing, but as long as you love me so, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." Also "In the meadow we can build a snowman and pretend that he is Parson Brown. He'll ask 'are you married' we say 'no man, but you can do the job when you're in town.'" From Frosty the Snowman to Silver Bells to In the Bleak Midwinter, we have it ingrained in our culture: snow is an intrinsic element of Christmas. Mariah Carey sang "All I want for Christmas is you," but me? All I want for Christmas is snow. In large quantities. When it comes to the holiday season, this could be my theme song.

Then I moved away from the Emerald City. I now live somewhere with (typically) snowy winters. While white Christmases are not guaranteed, they are far more likely. Last week, after I had nearly given up on my wish for this year, the skies opened and blanketed my town. I love it. When I went out for a walk this afternoon, the virgin snow still untouched by human footprints was knee-deep, and we are supposed to get more in between now and Christmas morning.

I am grateful to be able to raise my kids here with the snow. I love seeing them make snow angels and build snowmen and throw snowballs at each other. (However, if I'm honest, I am the usual target of their snowballs.) I am happy to dig my car out from under its fresh fallen blanket and drive along Coeur d'Alene's icy streets. I find serenity looking out my window at the evergreen branches sagging under the weight of snow.

When snow falls, the world turns quiet. All that is ugly disappears. Even my most sun-and-sand seeking friends who loathe cold weather will admit to a kind of aesthetic allure only available in landscapes covered by snow. It has a calming effect on the hustle and bustle nature of modern living. It forces us to move a little more slowly - even if for the sake of safety. Snow forms the truest bridge from the dead of Autumn to the blossom of Spring. It is peace, beauty, renewal, healing.

In the middle of this cold and ice, we find ourselves celebrating the birth of Jesus. Fitting, as His life grants us the same promise in our lives as snow has on the land around us. To give us peace amidst a storm. To cover over the ugly and make us beautiful again. To revive and heal everything that is broken inside us. Living in a locale that looks like a Christmas card, the promise God spoke in the first chapter of Isaiah is easier to understand.

In this, we find life. Our God is a God who makes all things new. I see no better demonstration of this promise than in a snow-covered earth.

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