When we were kids, we thought the first snow of the year meant Christmas. It was hard not to feel that the big day was close when all that white stuff finally came down and drifted up against our door. In New Hampshire, of course, snow can come at any time in the fall, winter, or spring and stay as long as it likes. The snow knows nothing of holidays and many times has refused to make an appearance at all.
Christmas happens anyway. In this way, Christmas is like the weather in New Hampshire. It won’t necessarily be what you expect. There are times when Christmas bites with the ferocity of the air when the wind chill factor is 25 degrees below zero. It can be the time when everything breaks down from the dishwasher or the furnace to the detente everyone tries to observe while sharing a few hours around the Christmas table. Or, it can dawn with the smell of bacon crisping and the sounds of laughter in the kitchen as siblings pour coffee and help set out breakfast. It can be the crunch of boots across the ice, the plugging of cars into heaters. It can be the flakes of snow falling from a midnight sky outside St. Agnes’ church in Jefferson, New Hampshire. It can be staying up to all hours wrapping presents. It can be times when we take out the paper and glue ornaments made years ago in school or around the kitchen table when we were driving my mother crazy.
It can be the time you miss the people you love the most. It can be a time when you realize how much time has passed, how much has changed. Maybe that was the beauty of the cold and the wildly unpredictable weather of New Hampshire winters — it gave us a reason to huddle close, to be ready for whatever comes, and to cherish the moments of random and sudden beauty that come with Christmas in the middle of the White Mountains.
Here’s a wish for all: may you stumble on your own moment of peace and beauty today, tomorrow, and every day.
I asked some friends and family to share their New Hampshire Christmas memories and thoughts. Here are a few. The theme running through each is a memory of family, friends, and strangers coming together:
“My mom marge whose home has become a community quilting zone with five sewing machines set up in her sunroom for anyone who wants to stop by, and a state trooper who stops there to sew on her way home– uniform still on gun and bulletproof vest and her bomb sniffing dog by her side. (Cate Goodson Boeth)”
“I see the holidays as a time of reflection and, of course, giving and one never knows how the giving will be accepted.
The beauty of New Hampshire mountains is magical this time of year… Every hour seems to say ok here is another view…even though it is 10 below zero
I miss the crowds that used to open the mud room door on Christmas Eve. There were always so many family and friends and, yes, people who just needed a family for this time of year… Hopefully someone else has taken this on…
On Christmas day there is a free dinner (with all the fixings) at the local church..this is in its eleventh year. No charge just come alone with family or friends..we will cook one of the hams and probably wait on table and clean up.
We will still have Christmas Eve dinner at home. There may not be as many people opening that mud room door, but we will love having the family that is here and the friends that join us…(M.)
“I remember Dad plugging the car in on the coldest nights; Our “Wildcat jackets” trimmed with fur because Wildcat was the coldest place to ski; Weekends at Wilderness. Sam used to rescue me from the daycare and ski with me on his shoulders (OMG); Smell of mud season; Our parents’ parties.” (Libby)
To find your state or country just click here, scroll down, select your state, and enjoy the brief reflections you’ll find there. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!