Movies, advertising, and story books have influenced generations of American children in how to visualize the ideal American Christmas.  The iconic Coca Cola Santa comes mind; after all it is the south who introduced the world to Coke. Bing Crosby introduced the song White Christmas to the world in the movie by the same name. A classic tune in a movie studded with classic images of Christmas in New England.

Acres of white ground are seen in the south just before the cotton fields are harvested, long before Christmas. Our trees bloom with white magnolias not freshly fallen snow. Outdoor ice skating is only seen clumsily executed by cars on a hill during the rare ice storm.

My classic American Christmas was brought about by an Australian couple.  My parents befriended them while they were living in this country temporarily for a year. As talk of the holiday season approached my parents realized I was not alone in my lack of a classic New England Christmas. With apologies to one of our favorite Dew writers, Australia does things upside down and backwards.  Aussies have Christmas in summer weather, how very Mele Kalikimaka of them. And so it came to be when I was in about the third grade we spent Christmas at my grandmother’s house in Connecticut. It was a white Christmas in all its glory.

Here’s the thing, a kid who has never touched real snow is wholly unprepared to discover it is cold and wet. My parents tried to warn me, but the concept of that pretty white stuff being uncomfortable without proper clothing did not compute. My dad took me on my first sled ride. Grammas house was at the top of a hill so I got the thrill of going down before learning about the difficulty in walking back up. I had absolutely no clue how to build a snowman and a tolerant adult indulged my fantasy the snowman should have feet. My great uncle was superintendent of the park. The park had a pond which was not open for ice skating. It is nice to know the right people, even better to be related to them.  With borrowed skates and shovels the adults set out to shovel the snow off the pond to skate. It turns out one of our Australian friends was an ice dancer, yes like you see in the Olympics. He took hold of my arm and we skated around the pond like I was an ice princess.  I will never forget my one moment of glory on the ice; any of my attempts as an adult have not ended well.

I have my grandmothers tree ornaments and every year when I unwrap them I re-live my Christmas in Connecticut. I have many wonderful memories of Christmas in many places filled with family and friends. Each and every Christmas is a magical time of the year.  I want everyone who comes to my home at Christmas time to feel the wonder and the love that is Christmas. I try to create an environment where everyone feels they have been transported to a magical place. I want every adult and child to have a story book Christmas memory to last a life time.

Darby Britto

Darby Britto

I was raised in the south by a pair of Yankees, and everyone around me wore combat boots. I think this explains a lot. A childhood spent working in little theatre and a professional career in television, tends to give me a point of view not often shared by others.

  1. I’ve yet to experience a white Christmas. As close as I’ve come was in Charleston, West Virginia back in 1970. Something 180 degrees away is a cotton field in full bloom beneath a full moon. Moonlight bathes a cotton field with silver light and thousands of silver-gilt cotton puffs glow with unworldly brilliance.

  2. Randy Conway

    The song “White Christmas” was not introduced by the movie of that name but in the movie “Holiday Inn” in 1942. The movie by that name came several years later.

  3. Darby Britto

    Yikes! Thank you Randy for that correction. I got my movies backwards.

  4. Frank Povah

    Bing Crosby – he’s bad luck and your mention of him will bring in some bad weather. In Australia he sings up the bulyakarrak who rides in Cockeyed Bobs.

    I’m glad you had a nice Connecticut Christmas, Darby – but are you sure the Australians you mentioned weren’t a bit troppo? I suspect they might have been a couple of the Seven Sisters who come down to earth to pee on cold nights, hence frost and icicles, which children should never eat.

    Have a great Xssie season every one of you and may the New Year bring you warmth and happiness.

    Love you all.

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