Even though the coming of winter in a place like San Francisco is more like a brisk fall, with flowers, the chilling of the air and the increasing darkness is fundamental to my sense of Christmas.
Sentimental I can occasionally be and Christmas brings it out. Thick with memory. This is the image I use as my screensaver these days:
It's an emotional memory rather than a physical recollection. The contrasts are essential: warmth and light in a world that's dark and cold. And the silence that comes with snow, but for the crunch under your feet. Firewood burning. And the steely glow of stars in a winter sky. Music, cooking smells, a sense of safety. The stopping of the world so that eternity and time can intersect.