Nov 14, 201209:55 AM
Dispatches from a New Orleans Newcomer
Discovering Christmas on the Bayou
This is how I spent my first Christmas. I promise I'm more exciting now.
I was shocked when a colleague told me Thanksgiving is only eight days away. That means Christmas is coming up, too! It's the most wonderful time of the year!
But something does not feel right. I have yet to turn on the heat in my apartment or use my car scraper or put mittens in my purse. I’m starting to become very intrigued about how New Orleans handles the whole holiday season thing when the city is missing one key ingredient: winter.
Growing up in cities with four clear seasons, the time from Thanksgiving to New Year's is synonymous with ice and snow. I have the best memories of watching the weather forecast on a November or December night, just hoping that the predicted snow would lead to a snow day tomorrow. I still get excited when I hear my high school has canceled school due to snow. (For those of you who have never experienced a snow day, that's when you don't go to school because the roads are too bad because of snow. You pretty much just watch movies, eat junk food and go sledding. It's awesome.)
No one likes snow in January or February, but in November and December, it’s magical. It makes you want to jump in a horse-drawn sleigh and sing Christmas carols for all of your neighbors. Even on those annoying December days when you take an embarrassing fall after slipping on ice in front of the grocery store, it still means Christmas is coming.
So with none of this going on in New Orleans right now, I’ve been curious to see how New Orleanians get excited about Christmas when they don’t have cold weather. Sure, you don’t need snow and ice to go Christmas caroling or to attend church, but I’ve always felt that the winter wonderland part of the holidays is a crucial factor. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. In "White Christmas," Bing Crosby wasn’t dreaming of a sub-tropical Christmas. He wanted a white one, a Christmas filled with snow, hot chocolate and Rosemary Clooney.
Before you New Orleans lifers get mad, I know it has snowed in New Orleans. According to a Kenner native I met on election night, it did actually snow on Christmas once. On Christmas morning! (Shout out to Mother Nature for that one!) I've heard it's happened a few other times, but snow in New Orleans is not a regular thing. I'm beginng to learn that the likeliness of seeing snow in New Orleans in November or December is pretty much the same as seeing Rudolph fly by on Dec. 24.
Sorry if I’m sounding negative, but Christmastime has always been an important part of my life because it's when my life began. I was born on Dec. 25, 1988, in a quiet New Hampshire hospital. While most baby girls are given a pink cap to wear, mine was red and green. I'm guessing the nurses at the hospital weren't pumped about working on Christmas Day, so I like to think I gave them something to do.
Because of my Dec. 25 birthday, my pre-Christmas and pre-birthday traditions have always been important to me, and they've usually involved snow and cold weather. It has been tough to get used to the thought that I will probably not see snow between now and Christmas.
However, my no-snow blues are slowly starting to subside because I keep hearing about all these fun New Orleans Christmas experiences that I can't wait to try. First, there’s Celebration in the Oaks, which I have heard is a great holiday festival. That will be open from Nov. 23 to Jan. 1. I'm anxious to find out more about this Mr. Bingle character.
I am also interested to see how New Orleans tackles Christmas music. I am already planning on buying the Kermit Ruffins Christmas album, and I plan to look for some more holiday albums from New Orleans artists.
There are all sorts of other little New Orleans holiday things I’ve found that I’m excited about such as these holiday cards from Scriptura. I am in love with these. In what other city can you find a Christmas card featuring a decorated hot dog cart?
To be honest with you, I won’t be spending Christmas Day in New Orleans because I will be back in Missouri visiting friends and family. However, I will be in New Orleans for all of November and most of December, so if you have any New Orleans holiday traditions between now and then that you want to share, please send them my way. I know the holiday season in New Orleans is going to be quite different from what I'm used to, but as long as there are Christmas lights, Christmas cookies and candles on my birthday cake, I’m sure I will enjoy it.