Every other year, we spend Christmas on my wife's family farm in Newbern, Tenn., which is a stone's throw from Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri.
That's about as far north as we travel in the winter, so it's our big chance to see some snow. In the dozen or so times I've spent Christmas there, we've seen the white stuff about four times, which is not bad. At least, the odds are better than staying in Columbus.
Of course, the last time we spent the holidays in West Tennessee -- in 2010 -- the Chattahoochee Valley got a white Christmas and we were left high and dry. This year, heading back to the farm, we felt we were due.
We arrive several days before Christmas. It's unseasonably warm, so there's no fire roaring on the hearth. That's sad, but we lift our spirits by taking long walks and eating big meals.
A typical breakfast at the farm means fried pork tenderloin, grits, waffles, bacon, country ham, biscuits and gravy, eggs cooked to order, hoop cheese and homemade Danish.
Dinner means goose, or a standing beef rib roast, or turkey and cornbread dressing, and always more country ham. And for dessert, we never have fewer than four kinds of cake, and always at least one pie.
So we have to take long walks.
This year, it rains on Christmas day and the temperature drops low enough to build a little fire. No signs of snow.
At night, the wind howls and the trees outside rattle and suddenly the power goes out.
We light some candles and throw a big log on the fire and then we sit there drinking boiled custard and talking about our favorite Christmases at the farm.
I remember the time 20 years ago when we were having a big snowball fight in the pasture and I was launching a methodical attack on one of my wife's brothers when I was pelted from behind.
This snowball had been fired at a high trajectory, and it dropped straight down my neck and inside my coat and flannel shirt and long johns, sliding wet and slushy down my spinal column and into my pants.
I wheeled around to get revenge.
There was my wife's 80-year-old grandmother, smiling sweetly.
All I could do was laugh. Two decades later, we sit there in the dark, remembering the people we love who are gone.
Somebody says it's a good thing the power went out, because it sure is peaceful.
That's when the lights flicker back on, and heat pours from the vents.
In the morning, we wake to half a foot of powder.
We have a big snowball fight and eat a big breakfast and take a long walk in the snow.
The countryside is white, except for the cardinals resting in the trees.
It's a magical day, and we enjoy it while we can.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.