Editor’s note: Dennis Wyatt is on vacation. This column first appeared on Dec. 14, 2010.
I always love getting calls from people who live on the East Coast or Midwest this time of year.
At some point in the conversation, Christmas will come up. This is followed almost immediately by a crack such as, “gee, how can you celebrate Christmas out there in California with your weather?”
The inference, of course, is that all Californians live within a sun tan bottle’s throw of the ocean and that there is nothing but sand and palm trees swaying with the temps at a balmy 80 degrees.
I usually refrain from saying something along the line that we have a lot of time to celebrate Christmas since we’re not spending 24/7 shoveling snow nor are we freezing our behinds off just to walk 15 feet outside. We have snow, but it is a nice two hours away where it belongs up in the mountains and not down in the flatlands.
But when someone gleefully goes on a rabid anti-California attack (read that someone jealous of our weather and state), I can’t resist.
I’ll ask them what Christmas is all about until they provide the answer I want — the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Then I’ll go in for the kill and ask them how come if there’s supposed to be snow at Christmas that Bethlehem doesn’t require snow chains and no one froze to death in the manger?
It’s ironic, isn’t it? Los Angeles with its beaches, sand, palm trees and occasionally low 80-degree December days is closer to Bethlehem than someone cursing at a snow-covered driveway in Des Moines.
A few years ago someone calling from Kankakee took a put shot at our fog. They were out in the Central Valley four years prior at Christmas and recalled having three days of fog which, of course, is nothing to anyone who has lived in the valley for any length of time. It isn’t really a case of being fogged in until you don’t see the sun for 10 consecutive days.
The caller then smugly suggested that how could it really be Christmas in Manteca with fog?
About this time I’ve got to wonder what the climate has to do with Christmas, but for some reason there are a large number of East Coast folks and Midwesterners who are hung up on the fact that it isn’t Christmas without snow.
This inspired me to start humming a few bars of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Obviously Gene Autry came up with the song to celebrate how the jolly old guy navigates down the Central Valley when tule fog is thick on Christmas Eve.
The Christmas weather put down is a continuum of the worn-out line, “Why would anyone want to live in a place where there are earthquakes?”
Good question, especially since the two biggest earthquakes that ever occurred in what is now the continental United States are thought to have happened in the Long Island area before there was a New York City and in the early 1820s in the Mississippi Valley where the earth shook so violently that the river literally jumped its banks and changed course in spots.
Hurricanes aren’t exactly a worry out here and tornadoes are far from an everyday occurrence. And when not fussing about wild Pacific storms once or twice a year or the fog, we have nothing left to do in California but complain about how it’s never humid enough to sweat sitting still in the shade while sipping a Mint Julep.
I’m sure folks in the Midwest and on the East Coast enjoy their humid summers, freezing winters, blinding snow storms, tornadoes and such. I’m not going to say anything bad about them.
But the idea that somehow we’re miserable at Christmas because we are without snow is insanity. If you’ve ever been in a real East Coast or Midwest snow storm you know they’re not Hallmark affairs. They’re nasty, relentless and they pile up a lot of white stuff.
People die in snow storms on the far side of the Rockies to such a point they count the bodies many times by the dozen. A snow storm death out here even in snow country is a rarity.
And Santa does quite well out here, thank you. He doesn’t have to worry about catching his death of cold although I’m not too sure how wild the big guy is about having bottled water and fruit slices left for him instead of milk and cookies.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.