7 Quick Takes about coldness, Instaweather, and maintaining sanity on Christmas morning
Greetings from the tundra! A big cold front is sweeping through Austin as I type, and we’re going to have lows around 25° F (-4° C), and maybe even a little snow! Sure, this might sound like nothing compared to what people in Canada and other parts of the US experience. However, when you calculate the Texas Adjusted Temperature, it’s quite shocking. Here’s how it works:
For any temperatures below 60 degrees:
- Subtract one degree for every time the temperature was over 100 this year.
- Subtract two degrees for every time you found a scorpion in your house this year.
- Subtract 30 degrees for every time you have ever found a scorpion in your bed (lifetime applicability here).
- Subtract five degrees for every rattlesnake sighting in your neighborhood this year.
Based on this extremely scientific calculation, when I am walking around in 45-degree weather tomorrow afternoon, the Texas Adjusted Temp is actually -5.
I should note that a similar system works for you folks up north during the summer as well. For any temperature above 80 degrees:
- Add two degrees for every time you had to run errands in a snowstorm.
- Add three degree for every hour you spent shoveling snow this winter.
- Add five degrees for every time the wind chill was below zero.
- Add ten degrees for every time you were snowed in.
So when I snicker at you referring to 92° F (33° C) as “hot” this summer, you can remind me that your adjusted temp is more like 120.
Given how much of a weather nerd I am, you can imagine how much it has brought my life to a standstill to have discovered the InstaWeather app. Combining weather with Instagram is like dropping a nuclear bomb on my productivity. When I realized that you can also post the forecast, I almost announced that I am withdrawing from society. After all, there is no more worthy endeavor that one could undertake than superimposing atmospheric metrics onto pictures.
And now that I have realized that I can see other people’s weather pics through the #instaweather hash tag, my new goal is to look up from my phone at least twice a day.
I don’t know when exactly this happened, but I can no longer deal with cold weather. I did fine living in Denver and Bismarck, so I must have had some sort of tolerance for cold at some point in my life — heck, at my North Dakota elementary school there was a rule that we kids had to go out on the playground as long as the wind chill was above -30. I don’t recall hating my life while I was playing hopscotch in below-zero temperatures, but these days I try to go to the grocery store when it’s 48 degrees and you’d think I’m Dr. Zhivago slogging through the tundra. I can never seem to put on enough layers to experience actual warmth, and I stew in misery for every moment that I am outdoors.
I keep trying to think of what would happen if we had to move to some place that had real winters. I guess I would do one of two things:
A. Toughen up and learn to accept the cold
I’m really on the fence about which it would be.
Joe and I have been toying with the idea of doing Christmas presents on Epiphany (the 12th day after Christmas), instead of on Christmas day. That’s how my dad’s Mexican friends did it when he was growing up in Mexico, and the bigger our family gets, the more that starts to seem like a great idea. With our six kids and me and Joe and the grandparents and my grandfather and an occasional guest all gathered around the tree on Christmas, we end up drowning in boxes and wrapping paper, and the resulting chaos makes it difficult to focus on anything but the fact that it looks like a toy store exploded in our living room. In theory I’d be fine with limiting the number of presents each person gets, but that’s pretty much impossible given the number of extended family members who like to shop for the kids.
The most surprising part is that when I floated the idea to the kids, they were fine with it. At first they recoiled at the idea of just opening one or two things on Christmas morning and saving the rest for later, but when I explained the vision of having a peaceful and simple Christmas day, then receiving our gifts on the same day that Jesus received his, they were surprisingly enthusiastic about it.
We’re not ready to make the switch yet, but we may do it one of these years.
One of the things I’ve realized this year is that I need to practice a different kind of generosity at Christmas: being generous in receiving gifts.
I’m a big believer in not having too much “stuff” junking up our living space — and, frankly, the fight against clutter is a matter of survival when you’re trying to raise six children in a small three-bedroom house. Because of this, in past years I’ve been really uptight about the kind and number of gifts we receive. I’d pour a lot of energy into figuring out how to stop the seemingly endless inflow of trinkets and toys to the house without hurting feelings, and the main result was that it made me stressed and frustrated and the kids still received a lot of presents.
This year I’ve felt drawn to consider the fact that some people love shopping for kids and don’t have many young children in their lives to shop for, and that getting something for our kids is fun and pleasurable for them. It’s a new approach to Christmas to remember that being a good gift receiver can be as important as being a good gift giver. I’m going to make sure that nobody feels obliged to get things for us, and leave it at that. If I end up running out of space to put all the new stuff at the end of the Christmas season, it’ll be an opportunity to get rid of old things we don’t need anymore, and to be thankful for generous loved-ones.
I wasn’t sure if everyone would see the beauty of this gem from my Best of Comments folder. But if you find this comment to be a subtle yet perfect encapsulation of all that is funny, then we are the same person. In response to the Netflix post:
I had the pleasure of hearing Patrick Madrid speak at the benefit dinner for the John Paul II Life Center last night. At the end of his speech about the fight that faithful Christians may endure against an increasingly secular culture, he read a beautiful piece of writing called The Fellowship of the Unashamed. It begins:
I AM A PART of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.
The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is in God’s hands. I am finished and done with low living, small planning, the bare minimum, smooth knees, mundane talking, frivolous living, selfish giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, applause, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, the best, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith. I lean on Christ’s presence. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with the power of God’s grace.