Let’s Have More of the Winter


This is Part IV of a four-part series in English on my pontification on the four seasons.

There are so many things that make winter the best of the four seasons, and what would make it even better is more of everything.

When I lived in the United States, winter always began on Thanksgiving week, just when the temperature outside starts to get comfortably cold in the Northeast.  Thanksgiving  means a lot of food with the family in front of the television that’s showing football all day long.  That’s a lot of good things packed in just one day.  There’s something quite special about Thanksgiving, the American version of a sacred holiday that is culturally respected as a traditional time off throughout the nation, regardless of age, race or religion.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a mixed bag.  On the one hand, it’s a tough one month period because, after the calendar turns to December, the mind begins the countdown towards Christmas.  On the other hand, there is something indescribably jolly about this time period.  It’s not just the shopping for the gifts, the colorful red and green illuminations, the Christmas carols and the holiday dinners.  Japan has embraced the commercialization of the Christmas season as much as the United States, but there’s a distinct difference that I suspect comes from cultural differences that can’t be simply imitated.  For all the materialism that seems to drive Christmas, the holiday season has an intrinsically special meaning for people that puts everybody in good spirits.  And happiness breeds more happiness, something I observed even while I was living in the perpetually grumpy New York.

For me, Christmas is always just the beginning of the joyful season, for every year, exactly a week after Christmas, New Year arrives.  If it’s the American in me that makes Christmas hold a special meaning, it’s the Japanese in me that makes the New Year’s a grand event.  The first three days of the calendar year in Japan is what Thanksgiving is to Americans: it’s that sacred time when the entire nation shuts down in order for the families to come together, eat a special meal and watch a particular program on television.

I grew up in the United States but, as much as I became Americanized over the 20 year period, the one thing I never got used to was school and work commencing on January 2nd.  I always felt that there was something quite sacrosanct about my New Year’s celebration being short-changed by a couple of days.  Some people may argue that wanting to celebrate all of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s in American and Japanese spirits is asking for all while sacrificing none, but all I can say in response is that if I have to suffer through an identity crises from being bicultural, I should be entitled to occasional benefits.

As wonderful as the various holidays that follow the calendar are, though, the greatest thing about the winter season is what takes place after the turn of the new year.  After all, the wintry weather only begins in December.

The key to a good winter is in having low temperatures with as much precipitation as possible in the weeks that follow the holidays.  When I say “low,” I mean way below freezing. I lived in Boston for six years, which means that I’ve experienced what it’s like to have to wait in the car while filling up the car with gas so I don’t go numb.  It’s fair to say that my anticipation for the wintry cold is significantly higher (or rather, lower from a Fahrenheit perspective) than most people.  

But the best winter isn’t just cold, because there’s not much to enjoy about the cold temperature alone.   No, it has to be accompanied by precipitation.  Lots and lots of precipitation.  The worst weeks in the months of January, February and March are those in which there are warm, blue skies with no chance of snow.  This is because the cold and the snow are what make winter seem and feel like winter, meaning more of the two makes winter (which is already good) even better.  (The converse, of course, holds true of the summer, which is already bad, and the greater heat and the humidity make the season worse).

Two years ago I lost the wintry weather when I returned to Tokyo, where winter is fairly dry and besides, precipitation would just make the weather worse because the temperatures are mostly above freezing.  I guess I’ll take the trade off of the worse wintry weather for the slightly more pleasant experience in the spring, though.

Because by far the worst part of the winter is that it is followed by the unbearable spring season.

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7 Responses to “Let’s Have More of the Winter”


  1. 1 Caitlin December 30, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Oh, Joe.

    I’m not a fan of the cold or of shoveling snow, no not at all, but I do kinda understand what you’re getting at. It’s one of the very, very few things I miss about Vermont. Winter is so goddamn pretty there. Fresh white snow on the ground, hiding all the mud and yuck. White ice on the trees, transforming them into a fairytale. Plenty of room for all the snow on the roads to be plowed into heaps. Living in the city, I do prefer NOT to have precipitation in the winter for logistical reasons, but it is kinda depressing to go months at a time with everything dead and brown and drab.

    • 2 joesas December 31, 2013 at 12:39 am

      Caitlin,

      Thanks for reading as always!

      Yes, the white snow. Isn’t that the most beautiful thing ever? If it’s going to be cold, there should be snow, and lots of it.

      And winter needs to be cold.

      So winter should have lots of snow.

      • 3 Caitlin December 31, 2013 at 9:51 am

        As always, Joe, I’m glad you’re not in charge. :)

        We’re supposed to get several inches starting Thursday. Maybe you should come visit!

        • 4 joesas January 1, 2014 at 8:34 am

          Caitlin,

          Several inches of snow! If only we got that much in Tokyo!

          And sorry to disappoint you, but one day, not in the too distant future, I will be in charge…

  2. 5 George Saigh December 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Joe,
    If you ever tell Elaine that you love winter she will probably put out a hit on you. She says she wishes she could hibernate like a bear for the winter and come out in he Spring. The only good thing that happened this winter is thatg Elaine and I are Great Grandparents. Our Grandson’s girlfriewnd hada baby boy on Dec. 4th. Cole Nathan Giananntonio. That’s a mouth full. We are expecting snow right after New Years Day and the temperature is supposed to drop to -2. That’s cold!!!
    Have a great New Year and we hope to see you when you are back in the states.

    • 6 joesas January 1, 2014 at 8:36 am

      Hey George! Long time no talk.

      That’s right, Elaine hates the winter. I’d forgotten. LOL. Great to hear that you’ve become great-grand parents! How exciting!

      Do stay warm and hope to catch you soon!


  1. 1 ボストンの冬に慣れると、どうも東京の冬は物足りなくなります | The World According to Joe Trackback on May 16, 2016 at 10:13 am

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