To say I’ve been dreaming of a White Christmas for a while would be an understatement.
Growing up in Australia, the festive season was more prawns on the BBQ and pavlovas than puddings and, well, prawns, but in cocktail salad form.
While I’ve appreciated being able to spend the day soaking up the sun and splashing in the water at the beach (albeit last year on a record-breaking, scorching 43-degree day), it was time for something a little bit different.
For years I’ve yearned for that classic, picture-perfect alabaster Christmas, the one films have told me is completely attainable; from Kevin McCallister protecting his snow-covered and inexplicably large and well-decorated family house in Home Alone, to Buddy in Elf standing up to bullies with his impressive snowball skills while walking through Central Park.
Even the experiences with snow on screen that weren’t exactly magical had me hooked.
I still remember being incredibly anxious at the ice cracking and nearly sending The Polar Express plunging into the depths of a frozen lake, holding my breath as Amy March nearly met the same fate when ice-skating in Little Women, and looking on with shock as Cameron Diaz’s Amanda struggled to adjust to driving in the UK after snowfall and nearly taking out some pedestrians along the way.
As I was watching these scenes unfold, I would have been looking out windows that had the sun streaming in and hazards of a different kind awaiting me outside.
Instead of being worried about rugging up and trying not to slip on sidewalks, I was slapping on some sunscreen and calculating just how much time I could spend by the beach before I started cooking myself like a turkey.
While a summer Christmas did offer up some positives, I’ve been counting down to one where it could be spent indoors and indulging on hot dishes as the temperature dropped outside.
So, before moving to London a few months ago, I had been eagerly awaiting seeing the city transform, with lights, ice rinks, and markets galore and, dare I say it, a smattering of snow?
Although I was told that the chances of snow in the capital on Christmas Day were smaller than my chance of seeing Harry Styles strolling through Oxford Circus, I’m still holding out hope that it might be a possibility at some point – especially after the recent spate of the white stuff we had in London.
Now in my late 20s, last week was actually the first time I’d ever seen snow in my whole life, so surely it’s not too much to hope we might get a sprinkling again soon just in time for the big day itself?
If anything can be singled out as the biggest reason why I’d been holding out for this moment, it’s that Christmas movies sold me on the idea that the magic really happens when waking up to snow after Santa has been and gone.
Plus, Christmas flicks set during the summer were few and far between when I was growing up.
Of course, most festive films include snow (it’d be sacrilege not to!) and there’s something about a powdery coating of the stuff that just adds a gloriously merry feel to things. Bottle that feeling up and let me drink it.
The films that really shaped my white Christmas cravings were those where it was simply there, blanketing homes as people came together to celebrate or softly falling as romances unfolded.
Instead of it being the centrepiece of the story, it added an extra layer of magic to the storylines.
While Home Alone ended with snow cascading over Chicago on Christmas Day as Kevin was reunited with his family, and his neighbour Marley reconnected with his son and granddaughter, the excitement paled in comparison when compared to the heart-warming homecomings.
Growing up watching this movie again and again with my late grandfather, it was always this moment that delighted him most and still sticks with me as a beautifully tender moment after all the brilliant chaos that came before it as an eight-year-old came to realise that, no matter how annoying his parents and siblings could be, he couldn’t live without them.
And although Buddy couldn’t contain his excitement to ‘make snow angels for two hours and go ice skating and eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie Dough’ as fast as he could in Elf, spreading Christmas cheer to those around him showed the (yes this sounds cheesy) real meaning of this time of year.
Proving to everyone that he was in fact right and that Santa was real, Buddy hopped aboard the sleigh as it sped through the New York skyline delivering presents as snow drifted over everyone looking on in awe from below.
There’s another movie some may forget about when compared to its big-budget counterparts that still manages to pack a punch too, even 57 years after it was released: 1965 classic A Charlie Brown Christmas sees the titular character spend most of the movie lamenting the commercialisation of the holiday and struggling to shake the feeling despite the excitement happening around him.
Eventually, it ends with Charlie’s friends helping to create a spectacular Christmas tree and ends with snow starting to fall, a simple but touching way to wrap up the story and show the group coming together to help support their friend.
It’s A Wonderful Life surely wouldn’t make any sense without snow either, so much so the 1946 film was at the forefront of developing a mixture that bypassed previous methods of utilising cotton and even asbestos to recreate the effect on screen.
Loosely based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this film was introduced to me at a young age by my dad, who was determined to expand my Christmas viewing favourites beyond The Grinch and Christmas with the Kranks at the time.
The snow was significant in the plot, signalling a rebirth as George Bailey, who at the start of the movie was close to suicide but with the help of a guardian angel was shown the impact he’d had on other people’s lives.
While I do love seeing a bit of mayhem unfold on screen as the snow starts falling, it is the idea that it can signal a new start and link to some sort of profound lesson that has stuck with me years later.
Although my first experience of snow came on a day when the UK seemed to shut down last week (my flight cancellations, I’ll admit, were not part of the snowy experience I’d hoped for), the moment I stepped out of the Tube after a day spent trying to jet out of Heathrow, it did actually make me stop and think.
While I was incredibly stressed trying to figure out how I was going to make it on another flight to see family, the moment I noticed what was happening, my stress really did fall away as I realised that moment I had been waiting for had finally arrived.
It might have come as I was feeling anything but festive but that sense of wonder and awe we so rarely feel as we leave our childhoods behind came flooding back.
I’m not too sure if this is too much to ask (Buddy, can you put in a good word with Santa?), but I’m still yearning for that perfect cinema-style white Christmas.
But, even if the weather forecast doesn’t quite live up to expectations, I’ll happily settle for a movie with lots of snow as I indulge on turkey, Yorkshire puddings, and plenty of mince pies.
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