Growing up in Cape May, I never had a white Christmas. The ocean wouldn’t allow it. When it did snow, it was never in December.
Sometimes, it was painful. I loved snow.
There was something so mystical about the white stuff. It seemed to cleanse my world.
But in Cape May, a snowstorm was just short of a miracle. Blue moons were more likely.
Big storm brewing… but we were always on the other side of the dreaded rain/snow line. I felt crushed. Dreaming, waiting, wishing… but dashed.
But when it did snow, I was fixated. I would peer out of my bedroom window at 314 Jefferson Street and spend hours watching the flicker from the streetlight below as flakes slowly tumbled to Earth.
Snow was a celebration. It made everything festive. My sense of winter was deeply seeded by imagery from other places.
Snow meant sledding down the side of the Cape May Bridge. It meant an unexpected day off from school. Snow made me feel like I was somewhere else… just for the day.
My friend John and I would head out into the blizzard like proud business owners and find our riches shoveling snow. We saw ourselves as burly men for the day - although we were much closer to lanky.
There was suddenly joy in driveways.
Twenty-dollar bills felt like a lot more.
For the day, I felt like I was in one of those idyllic pictures I had seen in my mother’s magazines.
In 1978, the snow Gods smiled on our little town like no other time. I still have a treasured picture of me looking like the absurdly bundled-up kid in “A Christmas Story” with a snowdrift up to my neck. We were off from school for a full week and spent every second of it out in the snow.
But it was long after Christmas.
Sure, there was always a majesty to a Cape May Christmas with the white lights and red beads, classic and Victorian.
I still hold those symbols close to my soul. But there was always a hint of sadness.
There was never any snow nipping at the holiday majesty. I asked. I begged.
I wished. I dreamed. But it never came true. Christmas was green.
I don’t live in Cape May anymore. I am closer to the snow side of that rain/snow line. But I still have a similar relationship with snow. And this week I asked, I begged, I wished, I dreamed that we would be graced by snow.
This time, it worked. The rain stayed further south. Snow filled the scene out my window in Collingswood. It’s not Christmas - but maybe some of it will stick around until then.
But my euphoria was tempered for a moment as I thought about some other Cape May kid sitting by his window - wishing, hoping, begging. But watching the rain come down.
To him, I say… for now savor the white lights and red beads. And please… keep dreaming.
Keith Forrest is a professor of communication at Atlantic Cape Community College. His late mother, Libby Demp Forrest Moore, wrote the Joyride column for this newspaper for 20 years.