My seasonal song this morning is ‘Let it Snow’. This song was written by lyricist, Sammy Cahn and composer, Jule Styne, in July 1945.
I love to see it snow at Christmas time. My love of Christmas snow, like most adults, was born during my childhood and has stayed with me ever since. Should I lay on my death bed one Christmas Eve, no better sight could wave off my passage into tomorrow than being surrounded by my loved ones and family, and seeing the snow falling outside my window and blanketing the cobbled streets of Haworth.
Snow at Christmas time is a special experience for many people and in some countries, large snowfalls are the seasonal norm. I remember living in Canada for two years between early 1964 and 1966. For the first few winter months, I lived in Montreal, Quebec and when it snows there, it snows in spades, and frequently covers the roofs of cars. I will never forget a sleigh ride I had through the Laurentian Mountains in North Quebec during January 1964. I felt as though I was taking part in the David Lean screen production, ‘Doctor Zhivago’, based on the 1957 Boris Pasternak novel set in Russia between 1917-22.
Neither will I ever forget the time that I worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) when I lived in Montreal. I was a server of drink and food on the long-distance runs that would often take several days to travel to the coast of the country. During such journeys, I would marvel at the wide-open prairie that one would see, with twenty or thirty miles separating one isolated dwelling from another.
I will never forget one winter’s train journey out to Winnipeg. Winnipeg is on the eastern edge of the Canadian Prairies in Western Canada and is commonly known as being the ‘Gateway to the West’. Long before one even got to the Province of Manitoba (of which Winnipeg is its Capital), widely different weather conditions would be experienced between every hundred miles the train travelled.
I will never forget looking out of the train I was working on one winter’s day and seeing what looked like the rooftops of a community of houses in the distance. As the train passed closer, I could not believe my eyes. I was able to clearly observe the roofs and chimney stacks of the houses, but not any part beneath roof level. I later learned that each winter, the occupants could be snowed in for months at a time in snowdrifts that had been known to reach their up-stairs bedrooms. My mind instantly went back to the film ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ where Adam and his six brothers who’d captured their seven brides-to-be deliberately caused an avalanche in Echo Pass as they drove through, knowing that they’d all be snowed in with their sweethearts until the following spring. That thought immediately made me consider the alternative prospects of being snowed in over winter with a person you couldn't tolerate one moment longer!
Snow means different things to different people. To young children, it represents the fun of snowballing, sledging down hills and building snowmen with mum and dad. To mums and dads everywhere that the snow falls (however materially rich or poor they are), snow represents seasonal opportunity to let the child in them loose again. It becomes one of the most natural of parental ways of playing with one’s children without it costing no more than drying off a few damp clothes and a pair of woollen mitts afterwards.
To the young man and woman courting each other, walking home through the snow holding hands with the one you love and want to marry, warms one’s heart better than any seasonal bag of roasted chestnuts or a glass of hot punch ever could.
To the old person, it is not the snow they fear but often the ice that lies beneath it and the danger of falling and breaking a leg or a hip. Such bone fractures cannot be so lightly brushed off for the elderly and can lead to months in hospital, often being unable to walk again unaided. If the fallen pensioner has a fragile bone structure, a fall can often precipitate a worsening situation, and it is not uncommon that some of them lose the will to carry on. Most elderly people experiencing a bad fall are never the same again. All suffer a loss of confidence, some avoid going outside again, and in worse-case scenarios, their lives are shortened by the trauma. It is quite common for some elderly pensioners to die soon after experiencing a traumatic fall.
It is most unlikely to snow this Christmas, but on the off chance it did, then enjoy it if you are safely able to. Given the Covid-19 lockdown across the country this year, and with Christmas day being the only window we may have to see our loved ones, I am sure that looking out onto a scene of snow outside will be more enjoyable than watching the rain falling heavily on the empty streets. Snow is a natural cleanser and purifier of the land it covers. Wouldn’t it be the best Christmas message of all if the falling of snow was able to purify all human thought and actions, enrich all the land upon which it touches, and rid the world of all illnesses and disease; not forgetting the many types of cancer which adversely affects the lives of so many individuals?
We hope that you and your loved ones have as pleasant a Christmas as is possible in such uncertain times besides experiencing a happier New Year than the one the world has just left behind. Seasonal greetings from us both.
Love and peace Bill and Sheila xxx