The general complaint being made at the moment is the slightly odd ‘it’s too warm for Christmas’. I have some sympathy with this, as it is relatively hard to get into a properly festive mood when the weather is generally grey and pretty mild. There needs to be a cold northerly wind at least, something that makes you (1) wear a scarf and (2) pull it tightly to prevent the drafts. I can take or leave the snow though; while like most children I had a lot of fun in the white cold stuff as an adult I feel that I only want significant snowfall when I do not have to travel anywhere and can look out on the prettiness of the garden from a heated room with a warming (one way or another) beverage.
But actually while the romanticism is all very well and while the biologist in me would like a proper seasonal change at the same time the niggling voice in my head says to be thankful for the mild weather. Not only does it mean less energy usage, it is too easy to forget when you are able bodied and still young enough to be able to control your own body temperature effectively how unpleasant and dangerous this time of year can be for some.
For the older people I know the problem is particularly acute. As we age, and as things – no matter how we take care of ourselves – begin, if not actually to fail, at least work with reduced efficiency – one of the more obvious issues being a reduced ability to regulate your own body temperature and subsequent reliance on outside sources. In winter that means turning up the heating – visiting my dear departed Nana was an exercise in sweltering in tropical conditions but she was only just comfortable (incidentally, the issue is just as bad in the heat of summer, and in the UK at least there is not the availability of air conditioning so it can be just or more difficult). When you add the impact snow, ice and frost has on people that are often a bit unsure on their feet in the best of conditions and it is easy to see that while for many a Winter Wonderland is anything but.
There are times when I feel that we often should take a few steps back and look again in a different way at how we feel about something. Worryingly for me, if I try that, I often find that the even if I can agree with myself on whatever is currently bothering me (as opposed to suddenly realising that I was just plain wrong) is how petty the subject can be. I’m amazed at my own capacity to complain about something that is either of no importance at all or where actually I should be positively thankful of where I stand in relation to it, not complain about it.
So on reflection, I think I will be happy with the warm weather and be glad that for some people this may be a slightly more relaxed run up to Christmas than sometimes is the case, and have extreme sympathy for those who will not enjoy this year either because of the disasters that have befallen them (such as the floods in Cumbria, ongoing as I write) or those who are missing the love that I personally feel from so many friends and family at this time of year.