Most of the country has been experiencing unusually warm weather for the past week, a result of El Nino.Or as one friend sang it, “It’s beginning to feel a lot like April.” Or as a columnist said, it’s “an iced coffee Advent.” College girls have traded their uniforms of Ugg boots and Northface jackets for sandals and T-shirts. Ugly Christmas sweater parties are not just ugly, but uncomfortable. Dreams of a white Christmas are fading, and Jack Frost isn’t close to anyone’s nose.
People are appreciating the unexpectedly beautiful weather, pouring outside on the weekends, soaking up the sun, and admiring the confused, blooming flowers. But there is appreciation too. The leaves already fell, the coats already pulled from storage. Where is the crisp December air? Where is the winter drizzle? Where is the chance of snow causing school kids to press their faces against the window? However good this weather is, it feels wrong.
Rural folk pay attention to the weather. The leaves foretell when rain is coming. The berries foretwell a harsh winter. Joints ache and noses itch when the pressure about to change. As I headed to work in the 70-degree weather this morning, I had that foreboding sense: it’s too warm, too calm. Usually that means the pressure will change by the afternoon; a big rain will rush in and cool it all down. It felt like the cusp of the storm. Except it wasn’t. There is no storm coming, not in the five-day forecast anyway. Just this uncomfortable, out-of-place, nice weather. So I wear my summer dresses and hope that next week, the rain will come.
For people in Florida or Arizona or Hawaii, maybe a palm tree Christmas feels normal. But for Midwesterners and Yankees and Appalachians, it ain’t right. We want to complain about the cold and worry about the ice. It’s the season to do so. This just feels…off.
But then I realized that Advent is the perfect time to feel uncomfortable. We should feel the unease of an overdue storm. Advent means coming, not just of a Christ Child, but of a King’s Return. We await not just The Kid, but El Nino. We are to be preparing for the Second Coming as much as the Incarnation. Storm, calamity, a world of unease. There is an ache in the bones that this world — though appearing ok on its own at times — is really…off, far from where it should be. There is the expectation of a storm to set it all right. It’s different from our typical Christmas picture, but it’s perfectly Advent.