Today is lovely. The air is still, the sky a light blue and the sun winter bright. It is in the 40’s, colder than yesterday but warmer than last night. It hasn’t yet been winter cold, the sort which takes your breath away. I’m glad for the reprieve.
When I watch TV programs supposedly taking place in winter, I always look for breath. In the one from the other night, a Hallmark Christmas movie, snow was in piles on the ground and the characters were bundled as if for an Arctic expedition but there was no breath. It was a fake, a movie winter, but I wasn’t taken in by the trappings of a Hollywood winter. I know cold.
I remember watching One Magic Christmas, a Disney movie where winter is real. Some key scenes take place at night. When the characters walk, you can hear the sound of crunching snow. Under the shine of the streetlights, you can see their breaths. Everywhere is snow: on the ground, piled on the sides of the road and in front of houses. It is really winter. I appreciated that.
In Bolgatanga, in Ghana, Christmas takes place during the harmattan when winds blow sand from the Sahara, the days are brutally hot and the nights cold. The first year there I was twenty-two and had never been away from home at Christmas. I tried not to think about it. My mother, however, saved the day. She sent me a package by air to guarantee a delivery before Christmas. The postage was a small fortune. My aunt helped fill the package and was nice enough to pay half of the postage. When I opened the box, it was filled with Christmas. I’ll never forget that box. It had a small artificial tree, some new ornaments and some from the family tree, cookie cutters, some sprinkles for the sugar cookies, small stockings to hang from the fireplace paper also in the package and a few small wrapped presents to put under the tree.
I learned how to make sugar cookies that year. I spent Christmas Eve with friends at my house where we had a small party. We sang Christmas carols, ate Guinea fowl, yam chips, donuts and sweet balls of coconut. The sugar cookies were the big hit. I had even decorated them. That Christmas is one of my all time favorites.