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11:10 PM Thu, Dec. 13th

Column: Snowstorm conjures up Christmases past

Sleighbells ring! Are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening; a beautiful sight. I'm happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland."

Strains of Dean Martin filled the airwaves and had me humming along as I blissfully navigated my traction-drive SUV through the fat, wet snowflakes that fell from the winter-white sky earlier this week.

I have been here in Mohave County for almost four years, and I've run outside to take pictures and make snowballs each spring when we've had a powdering of the white stuff. This is the first December snow here for me.

I even made a snow angel last year. I would have done the same this week, except that I was at work. I didn't relish the idea of sitting around in wet clothes all day just to humor a whim.

Like almost everyone else, I have shot photos of snow gracing cacti and sent those images via e-mail to my family back East. But the white stuff never lasted long enough. A day and it was gone. At least this time, it was here for a couple of days.

I confess: I'm a snow junkie.

As much as I appreciate the mild winters and all of the year-round outdoor opportunities in this part of the world, when Christmas rolls around, I MISS SNOW.

I don't mind driving in it, and I love taking a leisurely stroll outdoors while the snowflakes are still tumbling from heaven to the ground. There's nothing like the ethereal silence of a heavy snowstorm to bring me a sense of peace and wellbeing.

I suppose it all stems from those many winters and Christmases growing up in snow country. Unlike so many folks, I didn't move to the desert to get away from winter: I came here to be close to family and to take advantage of a better job opportunity.

And I've loved both of those aspects. It's been hard being so far from my children and grandchildren. But one of the hardest things is to be so far from them - and have to do without snow!

I really do love a white Christmas. In fact, I and Perry Como both dream of a white Christmas. In years past, I have done all I could possibly do to make my humble home look like the fabulous holiday habitats pictured on Christmas cards, and I've occasionally succeeded. I once lived in a Sears and Roebuck Victorian house on Main Street in Tampico, Ill., just a couple of blocks from the birthplace of former President Ronald Reagan.

That castle-like house was unique to begin with. It was dark green with black trim, and when we first moved in, the neighborhood kids thought is was haunted. We got almost no trick-or-treaters that first Halloween.

But by Christmas, it had taken on a whole new personality, thanks to me shimmying out onto the roof to hang lights on all of the four levels.

The house had a huge front room just off the foyer with its curved staircase leading to the second story. The "parlor" boasted a large picture window, the perfect spot for an enormous tree, and the snow outside was unblemished and beautiful!

The snowstorm here this week brought back all of those memories of Christmases past, and a certainty that there will be many more snowy Christmases in my future.

Regardless of whether you prefer tinsel or red chili peppers as decorations on your tree, I wish all of you a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Let's just cross our fingers and hope for more snow on Christmas Eve!