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White Christmas

Martha Stewart Living, December 2000

When Irving Berlin wrote "White Christmas" for Bing Crosby to sing in the 1942 film "Holiday Inn," almost no one thought it would be a major hit. Berlin's lyrics and melody were simple and pleasant, though unremarkable -- at least that's how they were dismissed at the time. But it may be the very simplicity of the song that has given it enduring appeal.

During World War II, American servicemen listened to it over the Armed Forces Radio
Services and dreamed of returning home. Even for those who never had known a white Christmas, the sentimental lyrics conjured happy memories of holidays spent with family and friends. The song gained unprecedented popularity, and five years after the first release Crosby recorded it again because -- according to one Hollywood legend -- the master copy was worn out from so much pressing.

Now six decades and countless recordings later, a white Christmas has become the nostalgic ideal. Surely it's many a child's winter fantasy: Waking up on Christmas morning to a world shimmering with snow. Surely no one is immune to the romance of a new snowfall. The hushed sounds, the glistening of sunlight on icy tree branches, and the clouds of white powder covering lawns and rooftops all combine to make an ordinary neighborhood dazzling.

And on Christmas day more than any other, dazzling is what we've come to expect. Unfortunately, the reality is that late December is early for snow. In most of North America, a true white Christmas is rare. But even if it's 70 degrees outside, you don't have to abandon the fantasy -- you can simply re-create it indoors.

For inspiration, imagine a peaceful landscape just after a snowfall. Everything is muted, dressed elegantly in cool silvery-white. Millions of tiny, crystalline surfaces scatter rays of light in all directions. Many traditional Christmas decorations lend themselves to snowy, sparkling embellishment -- garlands hung with crystal icicles, ornaments speckled with glitter, and evergreens dripping with silver tinsel.

Enhance the effect indoors with drifts of artificial snow: Spray snow works well for flocking trees and greenery; powdery flakes can be piled onto shelves, window sills, or around the hearth. (If you have children and pets at home, it's a good idea to keep the snow out of reach -- confine those flurries to mantel shelves and glass-enclosed cabinets.) The theme can extend to a holiday buffet laden with sweet and savory treats -- all in luscious shades of white and cream.

Use the ideas on the following pages to add shimmering touches to your holiday decorating. Or transform your entire house, so the family awakes on Christmas morning amid a wonderland of white. You already know what it should look like -- you've been dreaming of it since childhood.

Decorations
Christmas Morning
Gentle Drifts
Let the Party Begin
Cedar Wreath
Gumdrop Wreath
Sweet Greetings

Recipes
Holiday Buffet
Simple Sugar Cookies
Scallop Ceviche
Winter Rolls
Eggnog Panna Cotta
Coconut Snowmen