It never really felt like Christmas unless it snowed. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,” the radio crooned every December 1st without fail – the idea was so ingrained in the people’s heads that they were convinced Christmas wouldn’t arrive without it. Sure, it would turn to grit and slush a couple of days later, but for that first crisp, white morning, that first blanket of manna from heaven, only pure childish glee would surround the city.
Over the last couple of days of term school children would gaze out of the window at the grey skies, willing the temperature to drop, for the clouds to burst open and pelt airy flakes onto the eager earthlings below. Dreams of skis and sleds would slip and slide over the teacher’s maths lesson, colliding with the blackboard with a giggle and dissipating amongst the scrawled long division and multiplication. A collective sigh would echo around the room as the children turned back to their school books, scribbling half-heartedly, doodling a sprig of holly in the corner of the page.
Snowmen would pop up on street corners, merrily smoking cold pipes, frost bitten carrots stuck clumsily into their faces (and, often, lower bodies); once surly businessmen would slip and slide on their way to work, dodging snowballs thrown by giggling receptionists who hid behind snow peaked mounds on the common, chasing assistants with handfuls of the cold stuff to pack into clothing, all accompanied by shrieks of high pitched laughter. For those first couple of days happiness prevailed and all the troubles of the year were forgotten.