The perfect Christmas is always white. At least for those of us who live in an area where snow is a phenomenon of regular occurrence. Of course the snow we’re yearning for isn’t of the wet, sloppy, annoying kind that makes your boots wet and miserable and make everybody inclined to hasten back indoors as soon as possible.

Instead the snow of our wildest Christmas dreams is of the variety that covers everything with a celestial gown consisting of countless billions of tiny frozen jewels, fit for reindeer sleighing late at night under a starry black winter sky.

Winter by the fjord © Kay Ove Brinchmann. This picture was taken in the beginning of December after a snowfall a few days before.

For many people snow is as exotic as a Hawaiian hula hula dance, but I assure you that while there certainly is a special charm to snow covered fields, it becomes rather mundane once you’re used to it. Snow isn’t at all like dry autumn leaves that has to be removed from your lawn once every year; instead you’ll have to expect to spend literally a couple of hours shovelling snow every day there’s been a snowfall the night before. That is, unless you’ve invested in a snow blower that’ll help you to get the job done.

Unfortunately (or luckily, depending on your point of view) we haven’t had much snow around here this winter. I live in northern Norway and contrary to common belief, Norway isn’t as cold as you’d think. We’re blessed by the generous gulf stream, which make my country relatively habitable.

To put it this way, at the same latitude as my home, you normally would have nothing but eternal ice and polar bears; to our west we have the ice of Greenland, northern Canada and Alaska, and the frozen tundra of Siberia lies to our east. Yet my neighbours have an apple tree in their garden. I know people who grow cherries as well, even though they probably are a bit too sour for regular consumption.

Even though Norway isn’t as cold as the north pole, you’d still expect winters here to be just as white as in the archetypical western Christmas fantasy. The truth, however, is that the winters the past few years have been mild with little snow. The last two winters have been an exception with freezing cold weather, but for some reason the cold weather didn’t mean we had much of that magic white Christmas powder to boast of.

This year we’ve had an unusually mild autumn and winter. Except for a few days of pure winter bliss in the beginning of December, we’ve hardly seen any snow at all. According to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, the temperature have been on average 2,6 degrees Celsius (4.68 F) higher than normal for the past 30 days. 2,6 C might not seem as a big deal, but in practice it is the difference between a white Christmas, and a Christmas that is white spotted or even brown.

To put things in perspective, when I was a kid I remember that our farmer neighbours would create small hills of snow while clearing the road of snow. We’d dig out snow caves in them, or slide down from the top on our toboggans. It’s been many years since we had such amounts of snow. Yesterday we had rain, and it seems as if a rainy December has become the rule rather than the exception.

As I get older, the magic of snow has pretty much evaporated. I’m not as fond of snow as back when I was a kid. If our winters permanently became green I don’t think I’d miss it much. At least not the part about shovelling snow early in the morning. Yet, these mild winters added together form a disturbing pattern. A nature out of balance is serious no matter what we think about snow.

The irony is that while the media insists that snow is an indispensable part of the Christmas mythos, the White Christmas is rapidly becoming a fantasy with as little existence as the red clad Santa Claus himself. The lack of snow seemingly only intensifies the fetishism of the mass media White Christmas cult.

Paris sous la neige" by French painter and engraver Luigi Loir (1845-1916). This image is in the public domain. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org

I suspect that global warming, (or global weirding as some refer to it) won’t be a serious issue among the general public before the winter Olympics is cancelled due to mild weather. Meanwhile the white Christmas is becoming a nostalgic memory in many parts of the world where snowfalls wasn’t unheard of before.

Some parents wait a little too long before telling their children that Father Christmas doesn’t exist. When children are still toddlers, believing in Santa is cute, but if they’re 10-11 and still do, their parents are guilty of playing a cruel trick on their children.

We might likewise be in for a rude awakening. The media fuelled fantasy of the White Christmas is literally melting away in front of our eyes. It is becoming more and more evident that the future will bring a challenge that humanity hasn’t had to face before. The best Christmas gift we can give our children, is to gently let them know that the future will be radically different from today.

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