What I may remember most about my boyhood Christmas vacation to Florida is the sight of my grandfather lying contentedly on the beach
in his longjohns. He wasn't wearing only longjohns, of course. He was wearing dress trousers over them. We only knew he was wearing longjohns because they peeked out from beneath his smartly creased, cuffed slacks.
Let's never mind about the pants. My grandfather was a formal guy and those were different times. The thing here is the longjohns.
My grandfather lived in Michigan, where the cold was unrelenting and the snows had been blowing for some time now and would be blowing for some time more. In Michigan, winter isn't a season; it's a vicious animal that tears savagely at your flesh for interminable months. You don't mess with winter in Michigan.
Somebody in the family asked my grandfather why he was wearing longjohns in 83-degree heat. He replied without a trace of condescension in his voice, even though he was no doubt bewildered and troubled that his own flesh and blood would ask him a question with such an obvious answer. "It's winter," he explained.
I learned then that the sway of the seasons is a powerful thing. Which may explain why this summer, despite living in Texas, I took my wife, Jessica, and 11-year-old son, Sam, to the beach. No sane person goes to the Texas Gulf Coast in the summer. That's because in Texas it's always summer.