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Oxford’s weather keeps Christmastime interesting

Growing up in New Jersey, Christmas was cold.

Makes sense as it’s up north. There was usually snow on the ground, if not always on Christmas Day, then at least some time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

It “felt” like Christmas should. We battled icy roads and snow to get to the malls and stores to do our shopping. We were bundled from head to toe, with scarves, gloves, hats, boots and heavy winter coats.

Days during the school breaks for us kids were spent finding a snowy hill to slide down on our sled, building snow forts and afterward, coming inside to drink hot chocolate and watch those favorite Christmas shows that back then, only came on television once a year. There were no DVDs, VHS tapes, or cable television stations.

Christmas in Florida — now that’s a very different world.

My first Christmas in Florida in 1989 felt so strange to me. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, temperatures were around 75 degrees. I wore shorts while Christmas shopping. It depressed me that first year and I remember having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit.

Maybe Mother Nature saw my distress that year and decided to help me out, but a cold front moved into the area on Christmas Eve, and for the first time in more years than anyone could remember, it snowed on Christmas Eve in southwest Florida.

It didn’t stick of course and the flurries lasted about 15 minutes. But I was outside the entire time, putting my face up to the sky and enjoying every second of it. It finally felt like Christmas.

Each year after that, Christmas in Florida was what one would expect, warm, generally sunny and instead of a warm fire crackling in the background while we opened presents, the air conditioning quietly buzzed. Before Christmas dinner, we would go swimming in my parents’ pool.

Now living in Mississippi, I get the best – and worst – of both worlds around Christmas.

It might be warm. It might be freezing. Some days it’s both, like Saturday night when it was 70 during the day and then in a few hour’s time, it dropped almost 50 degrees after severe thunderstorms passed through the area. On Sunday morning, I awoke to see a light dusting of snow and sleet on my yard — 24 hours after wearing short-sleeves and putting the A/C on for a few minutes when my house felt warm and sticky.

The National Weather Service is predicting a high of 58 for Christmas day.

It will be too cold to swim and too warm for snow.

In the end, however, the temperature doesn’t matter. I’ll be inside my house, with all three of my children and all five of my grandchildren gathered around our tree seeing what Santa left for us.

And that’s what was always important, whether it was sitting with my family in New Jersey watching the snow fall on a White Christmas morning, or around a pool on a sunny, hot day in Florida, I was home with those I loved most in the world.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.