Last night we had to turn on the heat when Phoenix temperatures plummeted below 60oF. Yet the same temperature last January in Virginia would have felt balmy. It’s all about context. The holiday trappings I found so annoying in my old home are suddenly charming in a new place. Normally I would avoid a mall like the plague, but this year I deliberately went to one and stood, like everyone else, open-mouthed under the artificial snow. The artificial Christmas trees flanked by real, light-covered saguaros and palm trees everywhere seemed just right for the season. Is it the newness that makes it all so appealing, or is it a matter of degree? Maybe one lighted saguaro would seem tacky, and one artificial tree sad, while in excess they seem magnificent. One machine blowing “snow” from a roof could be pitiful, but four or five seem impressive. And after all, what is Christmas without anachronisms like snow?
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago…