Josh Shaffer

Shaffer: Dreaming of a slight Christmas

When the frosting melts off the fruitcake Friday, when Grandma dons her most festive holiday T-shirt, when we ditch roasted chestnuts for a plate of Yuletide watermelon, then the Triangle will welcome its Green Christmas – a holiday fit for the Heat Miser.

Forecasters say the wintertime temperature might soar as high as 80 degrees on Christmas Eve – a December milestone that has gone unreached since 1887, when no man but Santa Claus had ever stepped on the North Pole.

And so the Triangle celebrates this year without rosy cheeks or crackling fires, mittens and scarves tucked safely in the attic, cocoa unmixed and toddies served lukewarm. Judging from the tweets, Raleigh and its neighbors are making merry in a climatic muddle.

“You know it’s hot in December when Kai asked me to turn on the AC in the car,” posted Shelia Tolbert in Raleigh.

Invariably, when the conversation turns to weather, the Triangle splits along geographic lines, with North and South boasting over which extremes they can tolerate: face-melting heat or cold that busts a thermometer.

But nobody asks for a balmy Christmas, regardless of birthplace, for the same reason we hate rain on the Fourth of July. You can’t get rock around the tree with a sweaty forehead. Jeanette Isabella isn’t bringing any torch in this weather. Sleigh rides are out.

“Man, if only it was 40 degrees colder, it MIGHT be snowing,” tweeted one Scott Spickard.

Of course, a tropical Noel has its upside.

If your holiday abode is anything like mine, it’s full to bursting with in-laws and their various pets. Even with the extension in the table, kids eat on the stairs. Having a back-porch option provides much-needed breathing space given the indoor walking space is strewn with hastily torn-off wrapping paper and half-constructed Lego towers. And sometimes, I’m embarrassed to report, some of the kinfolk dip into what Miss Mamie and Miss Emily euphemistically called “The Recipe,” for those of you who – wink, wink – understand references to “The Waltons.”

Remember that even though Mel Torme wrote perhaps the best-loved Christmas carol, full of open fires and Jack Frost nipping, he wrote it in July. In California. During a heat wave.

And given that Christmas is thought to intersect with a pagan holiday, and that ancient polytheists were big on greenery as a holiday symbol, perhaps this year gives an appropriate nod to Yuletide roots. The Fraser fir in your living room isn’t the only joyful plant.

“It’s December 20 in Durham, and our camellia is blooming like mad,” wrote David Kroll on Twitter. “Better than a Christmas tree.”

So enjoy a barefoot holiday. Build a leaf man in the meadow. Maybe the treetops will glisten next year.

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