Topsy-turvy

Susann 2 cropped

This post is by Nancy Jardine.

There are many differing attitudes to the approach of Christmas.

Some love the end of November, after which their excitement continues to the 25th and 31st December. In the US, it might initially be looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday, or in Scotland, for people like me, it might be anticipating St. Andrew’s Day the 31st November. On the other hand, many dread the whole season if they are alone, or if some family circumstances mean the situation isn’t as happy as it could be.

world mapLiving in north-east Scotland, in the northern hemisphere at a latitude of 57.2, roughly comparable to Sitka on the Juneau peninsula of Alaska, I sometimes have mixed feelings about what November into December will bring. Deep snow falling prior to the 25th December brings with it an incredible sense of awe and excitement, especially if it happens to fall on Christmas Eve. The bright light factor as it falls is energising after what has often been very short grey days and long dark nights. The settled brilliance of deep crisp snow is cheering, the powdery newness a marshmallow joy to behold on the landscape. If it occurs a day or two before the 25th, there are the grumbles about the inconvenience to transport, work and all that entails, but so long as it isn’t too hampering the exhilaration pervades.

Double rainbow 2Often, though, at the end of December it’s very frosty nights and low freezing haar (low cloud thick enough to be dense fog) in the early dawns but, during my lifetime, there have also been times of weird unseasonable weather like I’m currently experiencing. A run of December days this 2015, when the daytime temperature averages have been 12 Deg Centigrade (53 Deg F), isn’t conducive to making it seem like the Christmas season. We’ve had double rainbows as seen over my ancient greenhouse attached to the stable block, after which the skies cleared to leave a very pleasant blue afternoon where I played with my grandchildren in the garden for more than an hour in something like 14 Degrees C.

“Sleigh Bells Ring…are you listening?” belting out from the speakers in the supermarket doesn’t appear logical when all I’m wearing is a cardigan over a T-shirt. During summer days when the temperature is only 12 Deg C? Yes, that would be normal—but in December?

Topsy-turvy is what our weather is currently like though I’m glad to say that I’ve recently read an article which corroborates that I’m not quite into senility, yet, and my memory isn’t too unreliable. Back in the early 1960s, Scotland did have a particular pre-Christmas season that was also incredibly mild…and this was well before Climate change was even invented!

skatesI believe the year was 1961. I got a pair of roller skates as a Christmas gift from Santa and I clearly remember being outside in the sunshine wearing only a cardigan as I learned how to use my fancy new skates which had a ‘brake stopper’ attached to the front, my previous ones having been hand-me-downs from my older sister which had NO brake stopper and very worn back plates. (read ‘Sore Bottoms-Are-US when using those skates as a novice!)

The image here is more like my sister’s skates. Mine had bright red plastic heel guards, moulded plastic toe caps and plastic wheels and toe-stop. My new ones were very fancy, very up-to-date and no doubt Woolworths best but they didn’t glide nearly as well as the older kind.

Pleasant weather aside, what I also remember about that particular Christmas was waking up early- though not before 7 a.m. since I was a sleepyhead. I was nine going on ten, and though the myth of Santa had been on shaky ground for some years, I still awoke with a tremendous excitement and eagerness to explore my ‘Christmas stocking’.

I don’t know exactly why this was tradition where I grew up in Glasgow, but we didn’t tend to have a stocking attacked to the mantle piece of the chimney. When Santa visited me in Glasgow, he left me a pillowcase filled with goodies which sat at the end of my bed.

I delved into the pillowcase and was over the moon to find a whole bunch of books, some of them really fat with loads of reading in them. I probably had breakfast and lunch but don’t remember that as I avidly scanned my beloved books and ‘Christmas Annuals’ of the comic books I used to get every week during the year. A few of those below are my original Enid Blyton books. Enid Blyton Dscn4856It was well into the afternoon before I was persuaded to don my new skates and go outside…in my new cardigan, skirt, and ankle socks since it was sunny and lovely and warm. (We’ll leave out the underwear descriptions; save to say I always got new stuff at Christmas and Easter)

My street was filled with boys and girls playing outside with their new gifts. There were few cars parked along our street back then so traffic wasn’t an issue and kids were whizzing up and down the slight incline on their brand new bikes. Little girls were wheeling their doll prams (strollers) up and down the pavements (sidewalk). Other kids were playing with balls and hula hoops (very topical that year). Some, like me who were wearing new skates, were shakily grabbing onto the garden fences making our way uphill as that was safer than going down the way, not trusting those brake stoppers quite yet!

Well. That fun, for me, only lasted a tiny short time because darkness fell rapidly. My long reading spell had eaten well into the daylight leaving me only a tiny amount outside in the fresh air. Though it was just past the winter solstice on that 25th December day, and the days were actually lengthening, it didn’t quite seem that way because the sun certainly didn’t ‘stand still’. I could have done with a little bit more sunlight…but the good thing was that I still had lots of books to read.

As I publish this post on the 19th December, the astronomical phenomenon of the solstice (the day of the sun standing still) is almost here – the moment the North Pole is tilted furthest from the sun as the Earth continues on its orbit. (Northern hemisphere) Traditionally, the winter solstice falls on December 21, but this year it actually happens on the 22nd December.

I remember very few other ‘warmish’ Christmas days like that one. As we draw so close to Christmas Day of 2015, and the weather in my part of the globe is incredibly mild on the 19th December, I’m wondering just what the 25th will be like.

Aye! The days will soon be fair drawin’ oot!

But what’s Christmas weather looking like for you? Whatever it is, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas from a rainy and dreich, but warmish, Scotland. 

Nancy Jardine writes:

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:   http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from KOBO; NOOK; ITunes; Barnes and Noble; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores.

 

 

 

 

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27 Responses to Topsy-turvy

  1. Joe Stephens says:

    We had been having late spring weather here for quite a spell. Temperatures climbed to near or even above 70 (F) for several consecutive days. But last night we got our first dusting of snow. It doesn’t look good for a white Christmas, though, as the forecast calls for highs in the fifties all next week.

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  2. I can’t imagine wearing just a T-shirt and cardigan in 50+ degree weather. I’m a wimp having grown up in Southern California my whole life so anything below 65 is cold to me. I just got back from Seattle which was in the 50s and low 40s at night, and man, was I bundled up! Then I come home and it’s pouring rain and cold here (cold being in the 40s and 50s). Now it’s a mild 70 degrees which I’m perfectly fine with! Happy holidays to you, Nancy!

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    • Nancy Jardine says:

      Yep! We’re a hardy bunch here in Scotland. Having visited LA, which is probably not even southern California, I can see why you feel that 60 Deg F is shivering cold. I’ve also been to Seattle in late December and very early January, and it was quite pleasant with just a medium warm jacket on at around 45 Deg…just kidding- though I was there in the turn of the Year of 2010.

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    • Mike Staton says:

      The weather in Vegas a bit earlier was highs in the high 40s and lows in the mid-30s at night. I actually wore gloves, winter coat and wool cap when I took my evening walks.

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  3. katewyland says:

    I lived in Michigan until I was 9 and I remember praying for snow for Christmas. Didn’t always happen–lovely when it did.

    Here in California we’re praying for rain (after 4 drought years) and are starting to get some. Supposed to be rainy off and on all week. What’s really great is that our Sierras are getting snow. Really important because a lot of our water comes from the melting snow pack in the spring.

    Merry Christmas and enjoy the unusual weather.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish I could say our weather is unseasonable, but here in Sheridan, it’s cold. We’ve got plenty of snow, and it looks like we’ll have a white Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy Jardine says:

      I’m sorry that the snow makes it difficult for you to get around and about, Abbie, but we’ve all (UK and US) been conditioned from the mid 1800s to anticipate snowy Christmasses, and it’s hard to shake off that mindset.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Mike Staton says:

    Those roller skates of yours reminds me of the ones I had back when I was in elementary school. Didn’t have stoppers on them, though. I don’t really recall taking bad falls. Even if I did, I was much more pliant back then. Sometimes on lucky days like birthdays, the neighborhood kids would get to go collectively to the indoor skating rink. Enjoyed your mention of hula hoops. Didn’t realize the craze reached all the way to Scotland.

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    • Nancy Jardine says:

      Mike – Hula hoops have made a few appearances in Scotland. At first they were purely for kids to have fun with but then around the 1970s , 1980s and probably even now- there was a time when they were used as a fitness aid. Women especially who want to lose weight around the stomach and midriff area find them useful and they can watch their favourite TV shows at the same time as getting fit! We still have a couple in the garden toy box.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Doris says:

    Where I live the chance of a White Christmas is only 10%. Living on the high plains desert does that. Still, I can look at Pikes Peak’s 14,000+ altitude and see plenty of snow. For me the best of both worlds.

    Returning the Holiday wishes to you and everyone, may it be filled with joy and laughter. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nancy Jardine says:

      Thank you Doris. At least seeing some snow in the distance would give that more seasonal outlook! My nearest view of a high hill is Bennachie but that’s only about 1700 feet, so the weather on top is not much different from what we have below it!

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  7. In Casper, Wyoming, we received well past 12 inches of snow on Tuesday, shutting down schools and some businesses. We’ve had winds past 50 mph many times the past five days, and that has made travel treacherous. We will likely have a white Christmas, left over from last week, as the highs have not been high enough to make much of a dent (instead, the thawing due to mid-40 F temps during daylight) and freezing again (20 F and below at night) making sidewalks and streets ICY! Merry Christmas, Nancy — thanks for sharing your childhood memories. I received a used bicycle one year when I was about 8 and I remember painting it two shades of purple ( I LOVED Donnie Osmond)! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We now have rain forecast for Christmas. It is what it is I guess, but I’ll take snow any day. Like you, books under the tree were a real treasure. I spent a lot of time outside with my siblings too.

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  9. Wranglers says:

    I know our weather is changing. I always th8nk we used to have a lot more snow and it came earlier in the year. Late October, and surely by Thanksgiving. Now we’re lucky to have snow before school starts back up. Cher’ley.

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  10. S J Brown says:

    We are experiencing warm weather here as well. It was hard to get into the Christmas spirit this year without a coat or gloves. It took us a while , But we finally got there. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas

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  11. Wranglers says:

    So wonderful.that you still.have all those books. I had sidewalk skates too, but we didn’t have sidewalks or paved roads. I stated in the basement. I loved December weather when I was a kid, now it’ late February and March that we get the snows. Of course in Florida, I have no snow. Cher’ley

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