When the day is gray and cold and damp, as it is today, I think of snow. It only snows here in south Georgia on the very rarest of occasions. But I can remember some lovely snow days in north Georgia, remember the dark hemlock boughs burdened with snow and the delight we felt in finding rabbit tracks on the perfect covering of the forest floor.
One Christmas season in particular, I remember we woke to see every bush and rock, holly tree and hemlock laced or even banked with fluffy snow. When I first opened my eyes that morning I saw a soft white reflection on the ceiling. Looking out, I saw our whole yard turned into a fairyland. Usually slow to crawl out of bed on cold mornings, I bounced from the bed that morning in a second. As fast as I ran down the stairs and out the door, I was preceded by my little sister whose excitement was coming out in squeals and yells of delight.
We ran and shuffled in the white stuff with Crusoe, Suzanne’s small brindle dog, barking frantically as he tried to keep up with us. Then we stopped to admire the wood stack topped with white like a huge frosted cake. The chickens were subdued and obviously perplexed about the strange cold stuff. Mamma called out for us to come in and put on more clothes. Daddy laughed at us when we came in and backed up to the warm stove. We slurped cups of hot cocoa before we ran out in our coats and mittens. That was when our brothers came back from milking the cows and began bombarding us with snowballs. Not that we let them have all the fun. It was really good snow for forming snowballs and I can remember right now the pleasure when I ambushed Charlie and Stan from behind a white pine tree.
It wasn’t our first time to experience snow. We usually had snow once or twice every winter. But that particular snow stands out in my mind as one of the best days of my childhood. Stan had received a plastic flute for Christmas and played it a lot between snowball fights and building snowmen. The sound of the flute echoed oddly in the snow covered world. We played until our fingers were like ice in our mittens, then ran in to get warm before going out again. Mamma and big sisters made a huge pot of stew that day, I think, or was it meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Whatever it was, it smelled so good when we crowded into the kitchen and, better than the smell, tasted wonderful.
Midafternoon, when it seemed the snow was starting to drip from the eaves as it thawed, suddenly flakes, fluffy big flakes, began falling again sticking momentarily on our eyelashes. Mamma gave us a saucepan o fill with good clean snow and she made snow cream. Nothing has ever tasted so good!
It was another snow day years later when one of our married brothers, John, came over with his family of four and we all took turns sledding down our steep hill on flattened cardboard boxes. Another snowy day we somehow had acquired an old round Coca-Cola sign. It made a delightfully dangerous sled, it shot so fast down the hill. Dodging pine trees was a big challenge. The shocker that day was when our Mamma sat down on that makeshift sled and took off lickety-split down the hill while we screamed in terror.
Even though snow days in south Georgia are so rare, we do occasionally have flurries, even sometimes an inch or two!
It snowed one Saturday when our son was small. We lived at that time next to a pine grove and the fluffy flakes falling amongst the evergreens was so beautiful. Charles was out treating a herd of poisoned pigs and missed all the fun, just had the added challenge of dealing with the bitter cold. I played with William all day as if I were still a kid myself. When William was about six years old we lived in a different house and he then had a dog named Floofy, his constant companion. I took a picture of him and Floofy on one of those rare snow days when tiny banks of snow piled up on branches of the palm trees.
Now our son lives in Birmingham where his family enjoys a good snow almost every year. He is good to send me pictures of snow both at home and in his travels around the state for his job. He and Christi have one very treacherous story to tell about a snowstorm when the roads were all closed and neither of them could get home. Charles’s brother Ronnie sends us pictures of snow in Michigan and talks of shoveling snow, of cleaning up when the whiteness turns nasty.
I know I am better suited to this climate where no one has to shovel snow, where I can step out the backdoor without fear of sliding down on ice, where flowers bloom year round. But when we have a gray day with a winter chill in the air I do think of snow. I think of how it covers even ugly heaps with perfect white, how every twig and leaf is transformed into a wondrous sight, how it feels to mush through snow before anyone else has set foot on it. I remember the sight of little brown birds hunting for morsels in the snow, the joy in watching a flurry of snow in the pine trees knowing that every single flake is created like none other by God who loves us each as unique individuals.
As snow turns even trash into a beautiful hump, so God through His son, Jesus Christ, turns us into new creatures. This is true no matter the climate in which we reside. I love Psalm 51:7 which says Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Wherever you are this Christmas–enjoying a beautiful snowy day, groaning as you clear your icy driveway one more time, or trotting down a sunny beach–I wish you a Merry Christmas and pray you will know you are loved as a unique person by our Creator and Redeemer.