My husband and I moved here, hundreds of miles away from all of our family and most of our friends. We moved here to start an exciting new chapter in our life, definitely, but sometimes we forget that and just get sort of bummed about the setting of that chapter being Texas (so sorry, Caitlin.) For those moments, we have a little saying in our house:
Remember, remember, the first of December.
On Saturday, December 1, 2018 in Dallas, the high was seventy-two degrees Fahrenheit. It was a cloudless day. Ben and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. I sat at the dilapidated picnic table on our patio and read a book while hanging laundry to dry on the line strung across our backyard. I think on December 2 we went to a park and tossed a frisbee around for an hour or so. It was one of those rare weekends when the weather and our desire to be active worked together to spur us into actually enjoying time outside.
But it was December 1.
When we first moved here, I swore to myself that I would not become the kind of person who, when asked “How is Texas?” replied with a simple “Hot.” In the summer, maintaining that discipline was a harrowing experience: I walked four blocks downtown every day for three weeks to my volunteer training, and those three weeks happened to be in the 110s, which was a temperature at which I was not previously aware human beings could survive. I would look around at my neighbors and church friends and stare in awe at what I assumed to be the colossal strength of generations of Texans that simmered quietly beneath their jolly exteriors. It took everything in me not to complain about the heat to my friends and family in the north.
I thought fall and winter would be easier, not only to live through, but also to avoid talking about. I don’t want to be heartless, talking about how nice the weather is when my mom is up at 5:00 in the morning to shovel the sidewalk clear of snow and my pregnant sister-in-law is struggling to find a warm enough coat that fits.
But then the PSL came back to Starbucks (I’m not always basic, but I will go to town on a PSL) and I couldn’t bring myself to buy one. For one thing, I was still just barely into drinking hot coffee again after months of refusing anything but iced. For another, more important thing, a PSL is for sweater weather paired with fashionable boots and scarves (okay, so I’m a little basic) and even in October, I still hadn’t unpacked my sweaters, boots, or scarves from their moving boxes in my closet. I did not just not want a PSL; I aggressively wanted the PSL to go away and come back later, when I presumed it would be actually fall.
So here I am, not only the person who mentions the weather whenever someone asks me how I’m surviving down here, (clap clap clap clap) deep in the heart of Texas. I am also the person who writes an entire blog post about it.
Because I have something to say and I’m only going to say it once: winter is wonderful.
To my friends in Pittsburgh leaving chairs in their parking spot so no one steals it while they’re at work, savor that. To my friends in Chicago who have to wrap their faces in at least one thick layer to prevent frostbite from the wind, savor that. To my friends in New York who wear hoodies and big socks around their apartments, savor that. To my friends in Detroit who argue with their roommates about what to set the thermostat to, savor that.
I’ll only say it once because you’re all already annoyed at me, and I can appreciate that. But as someone who grew up cozying up around a fireplace, who came of age running late for work because she didn’t leave enough time to scrape off her car, who for three years spent all of her considerable Starbucks gift cards (the universal gift for babysitters, teachers, and social workers) on PSLs and Peppermint Mochas, I can tell you that the alternative to winter is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Of course it is wonderful to not have to wear a coat, like, ever. I’ve traded my PSL for year-round iced tea and the best tacos in the whole damn country. And, at least for now, I still have the constitution of a northerner and can laugh as my coworkers complain about the occasional days of windy forty-degree weather. Of course, come June when I sweat through my clothes on the way to my car in the morning and everyone around me is bemused by my discomfort in this, the not-even-hottest month of the year, my husband will say to me “Remember, remember, the first of December,” and I will look back on these “winter” days with fondness. I will look forward to the return of eight months of Fall-Spring, and I will rejoice.
But for now, all I can think about is how out of place my Christmas trees looked when my neighbors have a cactus naturally growing in their front yard. And I will envy all y’all yanks up there.
Mary Margaret is a 2013 English, history, and secondary education grad who went rogue and became a Social Worker in Pennsylvania’s Child Welfare system. Specifically, she works as a caseworker in the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network finding families for children and educating the masses about foster care, adoption, and permanency planning. She made it over the grad-school hurdle with gold stars and warm fuzzies and is on to the next big adventure: the unknown of adulthood. Her major writing dream right now is to finish her science fiction novel that explores the concurrent futures of child welfare and artificial intelligence.