Christmas Eve in Florida

I'm getting ready to celebrate my twentieth Christmas in Florida. I've lived here longer than anywhere else. For about 364 days a year, I'm happy to live where there is no snow or ice. I see people struggling through it on television, and I remember how unpleasant winter can be. But on Christmas Eve, well, like the song says, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, even though if we actually got one, it would be catastrophic to our local subtropical vegetation.

It actually has snowed here before, five times in the last 150 years. The last time there were reports of snow flurries was my first winter here, during the Great Christmas Freeze of '89. That was a cold, cold day. I had to work Christmas Day at the Division of Forestry, and the building was unheated. It got down to around 28 degrees, which killed off a lot of the palm trees. It also froze the water in the garden hose outside the building. I was bundled up like an Eskimo, wondering if it was typical for a Florida winter (it wasn't). This week will be more representative, with high temperatures in the low 80s.

While people in Florida do manage to decorate festively for the season, it just isn't what I grew up with. I don't know how many times we actually had a white Christmas growing up, but it seems like winters were always cold when I was a kid growing up in Missouri. If we didn't have snow around Christmas, there was always plenty in January and February. As someone who walked to school (uphill, both ways!) the cold temperatures and the snowy conditions were an indelible memory.

So for those of you with snow on the ground as Christmas approaches, enjoy the beauty of the season. I don't envy you, well, not very much. Maybe just a teeny little bit around midnight tonight.