A Catholic View - I’m dealing with a green Christmas

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The beauty of Christmas doesn’t depend on the weather

Western Washingtonians have to cope with extremes in the weather. Whether it’s summer or winter, the weather is always extremely temperate. 

We have to face the brutal reality that it’s only snowed on Christmas in Seattle six times in the past century. Six times! That’s 94 snowless times in the past 100 years when we’ve had to listen to “White Christmas,” get sparkly cards full of 19th-century scenes with sleighs jingling merrily through wintry forests, and watch movies where — after the family has come back together following the crisis that threatened to tear it apart and everybody has learned the True Meaning of Christmas — the child looks out the window with eyes full of wonder and cries out, “Mom! Dad! Look! It’s snowing!” That, plus the Mariners, can make it seem like we get the short end of the cosmic stick here in Washington.

And yet, I’m not going to complain. Why? Because I love where I live! It’s really that simple. Yeah, we don’t get the Lake Wobegon winters with tons of snow. Yeah, we don’t get the California heat or the Hawaii gorgeousness. But man oh man, do Washingtonians live in a beautiful place! In the summer, especially July through September, there’s no place more wonderful on earth. No humidity, cool breezes, your choice of salt water or mountains within an hour’s drive of one another, Edenic places to hike and camp and ride bikes. Paradise.

All the good stuff about Christmas

And in winter, we have rain rather than impassable snow drifts, salt on the roads eating your car away, busted pipes and all those weather reports from the East Coast each winter which use terms like “crippled,” “paralyzed,” “buried,” “icy grip” and “Big Freeze.”

Our green Christmases here in Seattle mean that we can enjoy all the good stuff about Christmas without sweating the lousy stuff. We still get the long cold dark winter nights, good for snuggling and smooching. We still get the lights-out hide-and-seek games with the little ones. We still get the excitement of the Advent countdown. We still get to go see family and friends. We still get the glory of the Christmas vigil Mass. We still get the glee of Christmas morning. Only, when the sun rises, odds are extremely good that it will be a golden crisp bright morning with frost on the evergreen tree and the bare branches of our mountain ash forming a delicate lace across our view of Mount Rainier through the back window. When the kids want to go out and play with the new automated radio-controlled gizmo from Aunt Mary, they don’t have to wait till April to do it. When we want to drive down to Olympia to see the family for the big holiday hooptido, we just go. There are no travel advisories because hey! it’s Christmas, so there’s no snow!

The true True Meaning of Christmas

I take this “look on the bright side” view of our green Christmases because I figure we’ve got it pretty good. The first Christmas was celebrated under considerably more adverse conditions than ours. I don’t have to haul my wife somewhere on the back of a jackass because some bureaucratic ninny decided that the bean counters needed to count our particular noses just as my wife was coming to term with our first child. If we travel, I know we’ll have a roof over our heads when we reach journey’s end. And it will be better than a cave.

That first Christmas was not at all what we’d call “Christmassy.” It wasn’t even green, much less white. It was just tough, if you judge it by the standard of Kodak moments per hour. On the other hand, it was more Christmassy than any other Christmas, because here, not confusable with any of the trimmings, was what it was all about: a Christmas neither green nor white, but pink and perfect and wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. If you’re looking for Kodak moments, it’s good to know where to put the focus.

Northwest Catholic - Dec. 2014


Mark Shea

Mark Shea is a member of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle. His website is www.mark-shea.com

Website: www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea