Although I do not share the desolation, it is promoted by some that Christmas is perfectly wretched without two things: family and snow. It perhaps illustrates how hardened I’ve become that my constancy for the Season survives in spite of being on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina sans famille and sans neige. I won’t discredit the desirability of these two elements and of the many other traditional icons of the festive season but neither will I diminish the allure of a Confederate Christmas.
Coming from a northern climate (and having spent some exceedingly memorable Christmases in Scandinavia during record snow storms), I recall that the first time I spent Christmas in a warm climate I found it incongruous to see palm trees and a beach at Christmas. But after six years in South Carolina at Christmastime I have embraced the semi-tropical theme. In fact I have fully modified my view of what Christmas should look like. My introduction to the modification was years earlier in Naples, Florida where drivers sported Christmas wreaths on the front grill of their cars. This was an extraordinary exhibition to my thinking and one which, as uplifting as it is, I have never adopted. Occasionally on Hilton Head Island I have seen similar decorations but certainly less frequently. What remains as indigenous identifiers are the immutable features of the topography; namely, palmetto ferns, hanging Spanish moss, rolling green lawns and hedges, white sandy beaches, the scalloped blue Atlantic Ocean, sailing yachts and red horizons at sunset. There are some who persist in putting up modest decorations like wreaths hung on mail box posts; or blazing red bows appended to a front door. The closest we get to anything reminiscent of snow is the occasional foggy morning.
Mostly however it is the pervasive mixture of incredible gemstone colours which lend an air of magic to the festive experience. As well I never tire of driving my car on clean, dry streets. In fact the entire experience here is marked by a pristine character which is seldom matched in the North except immediately after a new snowfall and only then from a distance.
The flavour of Christmas insinuates the South in subtle ways, including of course the paradox of hearing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and other obviously incompatible melodies. Thanks to internet streaming of music the inconsistency is inescapable but it oddly enhances the mood if for no other reason than to remind us what we’re missing. Meanwhile we have occasion to gaze upon the floodlit blue water of the swimming pool adjacent the sand dunes and the beach.
Mobility is frequently an issue in a northern Christmas. My preferred method of transport is neither a snowmobile nor a sleigh. Today for example we leisurely traveled by car along the coast of the barrier sea islands for two hours while regularly lowering the windows to relish the warm afternoon air. Naturally our apparel reflects the softness of the environment. No winter boots here!