As December approaches, Canadians typically prepare for the arrival of Santa Clause, and his evil twin Old Man Winter. Before Santa Clause can shower people with gifts, Old Man Winter does his utmost to cover people in this part of the world with snow. Snow can be a good or a bad thing; good if it doesn’t come, bad if it does.
Don’t get me wrong, I love snow as much as the next South African. In South Africa, although December is a summer month, many Christmas cards feature a snowy backdrop. Snow-coated Christmas trees are also popular there, and so is “Snow in a Can”. But I am of the opinion that snow should be enjoyed like a fine wine, or Will Ferrell; in small amounts. A light dusting does look pretty. Plus, it hides the fact that we have neglected our landscaping. However, bucket-loads of the stuff falling out of the sky before we have fitted our winter tires is less attractive.
To prepare for winter in South Africa, you put on a warmer sweater, and you’re done. In Taiwan, you buy a sweater. Taiwan has approximately 360 days of high temperatures and humidity per year ( a guestimation). There is a slight possibility that those in Taiwan will need a sweater for those remaining five or six days. In Atlantic Canada on the other hand, preparing for winter is an event.
In Newfoundland, in addition to a complete wardrobe change, winter tires are essential. It is also recommended that you keep a shovel, a bag of salt or dirt, and a blanket or two in the trunk. Surprisingly, this is not a page borrowed from the Mafia’s textbook. Winter weather and holiday fever tend to make the roads (and bank balances) extremely unpredictable and even hazardous.
Many things change during those cold winter months, including time. Daylight savings time ends, providing an extra hour in November. In the warmer months, this hour is given back. As an immigrant, daylight savings time is something of a foreign concept. I have come to understand it as a “Give a Penny, Take a Penny” tray where an hour is deposited or withdrawn as needed instead of Pennies.
With the winter tires on, a bag of salt in our porch, a pair of shovels on our patio and our clocks set back, we are as ready as we can be for Old Man Winter. Now for the fun part: Preparing for Christmas.