Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday: What Color is Your Christmas?

The Pacific Northwest was just two days from a white Christmas in this view from Bellevue across Lake Washington to Mercer Island on 23-December-2008

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON - If you're Elvis Presley, then you have a Blue Christmas without your loved ones. Hollywood has brought us a Black Christmas at least twice in the past. In the Bush White House this year, it's a Red, White and Blue Christmas. There's even the vaguely racist Yellow Christmas. But, for the vast majority of the people celebrating the holiday, there are only two possible colors for the holiday--green and white.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, there have not been very many white Christmases. In my lifetime, I remember only two before this year--1996 and 2007, and both of those wouldn't meet an absolute standard of having a layer of snow on the ground on Christmas morning, but did see snowfall in the course of Christmas Day, a real storm in the case of 1996 and just a fleeting shower in 2007.

In a region surrounded by evergreen trees of multiple species, the inevitable color of Christmas in Seattle has been green. The single most iconic regional holiday song for the Pacific Northwest, Brenda White's "Christmas in the Northwest," includes the refrain that Christmas "is a gift God wrapped in green."

Of course, the color green is not the only thing that usually predominates a Seattle Christmas. The Pysht River Troubadours captured this well in their song "Let's Have a Seattle Christmas," containing the refrain: "For it doesn't just rain on Christmas, it's every day, every day, every day." I have few memories of outdoor activities on Christmas as a child, but that's not because it was too cold--it was because it was raining. Christmas is an indoor holiday here, which is just fine for visiting with family, eating a big meal, and exchanging gifts.

This year will be a white Christmas around Seattle by any standard, short of an overnight miracle that makes several inches of snow disappear. The biggest concern will be the ability of families to drive to gatherings, and whether electrical power will be maintained as it mostly has been throughout this storm season.

Statistically, tomorrow will be a rare event, so to everyone around the Pacific Northwest, enjoy the white Christmas, and to everyone else, enjoy the holiday, no matter what color it might be.

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