From snowed in to diving in

A Western New Yorker’s take on Christmas in Florida.

 I grew up in Buffalo, New York, otherwise known as the City of Good Neighbors, the city that smells like Cheerios and the home of the Bills Mafia. When we’re not smashing through flaming folding tables at football tailgates or eating chicken wings, we might be shoveling ourselves out of the many feet of snow trapping us in our homes or out of our cars. Buffalo is the second-ranked city in the United States for the most amount of snow every year.

After growing up with all four seasons, moving to Florida was definitely a big change, especially around the holidays. My parents moved to Eustis two years ago this month, so the last two Christmases have been very offbeat from what we were used to up North. I remember opening presents in our matching, cozy Christmas pajamas as kids, and wrapping ourselves in blankets as we watched the snow fall outside. Now, we’re wearing shorts with the sun shining through the windows. Instead of staying cuddled up on the couch with all of my cousins, we might sunbathe and go swimming before Christmas dinner, using our Christmas presents of pool floats rather than our usual sweaters and scarves. 

Some years, we even had snow by Thanksgiving. The infamous “October Storm” of 2006 kept people in their homes for over a week and allowed for a week of snow days (yay!), so you can see that we’re used to a lot of snow, for a long time. Buffalonians also joke that our winters are six months long, which isn’t too far off most years. 

I remember a storm two years ago when I was at college in the city of Buffalo. There was only a dusting of snow in the city, but my school canceled classes for the first time in more than 10 years because professors and commuter students couldn’t make it to the city from the suburbs, which got hit with over 6 feet of snow. I remember driving home during this time, and on the side streets to my house, the snow was at least 2 or 3 feet above my car on either side. It felt like I was driving through an icy maze. Another thing I realized about Florida is the lack of potholes, which Buffalo has an abundance of thanks to all that snow and ice. 

Snowstorms aren’t all bad, though—like I said, snow days for school kids. They’re also a great opportunity to spend time with your family on the days your parents are lucky enough to not have to go to work because of those pesky driving bans. I remember times when my family would sit in the living room playing board games, surrounded by candles. When we were little, we would huddle in my parents’ room to keep warm. 

While I’m not totally used to or a fan of sunny Christmases yet, one of the huge perks of Florida weather is not having to keep a snow brush in my car all year round (yes, we really do this in Buffalo). 

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