#WinterWonderland: The Snow is Whiter on the Other Side

You know what they say, everyone. The grass is greener… er, the snow is whiter… on the other side.

In the Tar Heel state, and especially in the Piedmont, Christmas isn’t exactly what you might see on a holiday postcard or a Hallmark TV special. Yes, it’s festive and happy and warm, but when I say that it’s warm, I’m not just talking about the fuzzy feelings you get from enjoying time spent with family and friends. I mean, there have been Christmases when I could (and did) comfortably wear shorts outside.

‘Tis the joy of living in a Southern state! I definitely have mixed feelings about the weather here, during the winter. While I am certain of my feelings about North Carolina summers (they suck), I can’t help but bounce back and forth on whether or not I’d rather be a tad farther north for the month of December. Maybe somewhere in the mountains, at least, so I can appease my appetite for winter weather. My American brain has convinced me that the season just doesn’t feel very festive without substantial snow, but my common sense also tells me that living up north isn’t all fun and games. My relatives in northern Michigan laugh themselves silly when they hear that school has been cancelled because of a slim coating of snow… if it can even be called snow. The tales I hear of trekking through multiple feet of snow to get to school and making a daily routine of shoveling the driveway don’t sound quite as appealing as the picture-perfect winter wonderland for which I yearn. But is asking for a couple measly inches of beautiful, beautiful snow really too much?

If I’m being honest, the alleged “snow” that we occasionally get here is more like a very sad sprinkling of powdered sugar.  It melts almost immediately and then freezes into ice. Ah yes, fun and definitely not dangerous. But just a couple of years ago, a miracle occurred: the spring semester kicked off with glorious, glorious snow! Real snow! Snow that was fluffy and more than a couple inches deep and not just piled-up parking lot sleet! Huzzah!

I can’t say I’ve ever felt more in the winter spirit than I did while we had that snow… partially because I got a few days off from class, but that’s not the point. Walks through Coker arboretum, down Country Club Road and in front of Wilson Library provided me with some of the most beautiful, picturesque views of Chapel Hill I have beheld to this day. I always preferred the summer, when I was younger, solely because school was out and there was the possibility of a fun beach vacation, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not becoming a bigger fan of autumn and winter, as I get older. In winter, I’m not sweaty. There’s typically less sun (and therefore less sunburn and squinting), and the air genuinely feels crisper and fresher, when you breathe. And when - or if - we get a little bit of snow, my goodness, is it gorgeous!

I wrote all of this to acknowledge the fact that snow is a novelty here. But snow can also be a source of humor, such as when you see the scarily small number of people who actually know how to drive in it and the way that the bread and milk aisles are cleaned out almost immediately. But who can expect us to know how to act, when we so rarely get anything that even resembles snow? There’s not much of an opportunity for practice.

In all sincerity, I hope you enjoy the green Christmas, Tar Heels! May it be merry, bright and not too toasty.