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MY ANGLE: Holidays don’t make up for misery of winter

As the fading orange leaves of autumn settle and the cold, biting winds of December descend upon us, California’s worst season once again prepares to freeze our hands and chap our lips with the cruelty of a dozen winter storms — minus the snow.

There is no other way to put it: winter is the most dreadful, ruthless, and depressing season to experience as a Californian.

As someone who enjoys celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day with family and friends, I can assure you that this statement does not come out of hatred for the holiday season. 

Instead, it’s an observation as to how much the holidays boost its appeal. Just as a star-studded movie cast cannot save an atrocious script, we should not let Christmas and New Year’s Day hide all of winter’s glaring weaknesses in other departments. 

First, let us examine the weather. With highs in the low 60s and lows around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, California’s winter temperatures barely reach freezing. And because these temperatures are substantially warmer than those experienced in the Northern or Eastern U.S., this places California in a meteorological limbo where it is uncomfortably cold but not cold enough for snow — the worst of both worlds. 

As a result, the darkest and cloudiest days fail to yield anything more than a relentless downpour of rain that turns yards to mud and streets to water hazards for unprepared drivers. The rivers rise to dangerous levels as climate change’s rising temperatures provide a surplus of rain and a shortage of snow, leading to damaging floods in the short term and prolonged droughts throughout the rest of the year.

People who play outdoor sports or enjoy many of the state’s popular recreational activities such as hiking, cycling or swimming must put their hobbies on hold as the frigid air and slick terrain make conditions miserable. 

On top of this, people who enjoy winter sports such as snowboarding and skiing must travel to Tahoe or other pricey tourist destinations to gain access to the state’s scarce snowfall. For those without any interest in participating in these sports (or people without the privilege of being able to travel to attend them), the months of December, January and February put practices and games on hold for nearly a quarter of the year. 

As for the average child’s experience of the season, winter receives incredible hype but fails to deliver on most of its promises. Californian children miss out on countless wintertime rites of passage including snowball fights, sledding and building snowmen, unless they can convince their parents to take them somewhere with snow.

Never experiencing the joy of a snow day, children have to attend class as normal, spending their free time in the gym, cafeteria or crowded classrooms filled with others seeking refuge from the cold. If they attend an “outdoor” school with exposed hallways and portable classrooms (a very common style in a state built for the heat), their day is spent shuffling past empty quads and quiet walkways, dividing themselves amongst the limited indoor spaces to escape the weather. 

Winter’s emotional impact is also significant, and more taxing than those of spring, summer or fall. 

The ending of Daylight Savings time in November combined with the Earth’s tilted orbit leads to sunsets that end before 5 P.M. The lack of daylight after work or school can be depressing to people who do not want to spend the rest of their evenings inside their homes. This can be observed in 

Even when taking holidays like Christmas into consideration, their added benefits still bring additional issues. For example, stress over selecting the right gifts for friends and family can make holiday shopping tedious and expensive. Tense relationships with visiting relatives can be worsened as cabin fever sets in, or, conversely, feelings of loneliness can be accentuated by the thought of spending the holidays alone.

In states more accustomed to colder temperatures or exposed to higher levels of snowfall, the antics of the winter season may have a certain charm. 

For inhabitants of the Golden State, the holiday season’s best present may arrive in February on Groundhog Day in the prediction of an early spring.

By Luke Scripps

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