From the president’s chair

Hopes and dreams brought snow to Miami


Special to The Miami Herald

The unrelenting South Florida heat in December and the anticipation of Christmas reminded me of an interesting personal story that I shared with my kids about the day it snowed in Miami.

The older generations may be split as to whether or not it ever actually “snowed” down here, but those of us in our late 30s and early 40s living here since the 1970s will never deny what we saw on Jan. 19, 1977 when we awoke that frosty morning and looked outside our windows. We saw snow.

At the time I was 6 years old, and I couldn’t for the life of me understand the cynicism with which the adults reacted to that miraculous event. I recall how they laughed and jeered as the light flurries instantly melted in their hands. Granted, it wasn’t what we expected, but it was snow, and my friends and I weren’t about to let too many technicalities get in the way of our fun. To begin with, because of the odd forecast, school had been canceled that day and, if nothing else, we were thankful for that. We made makeshift sleds out of cardboard boxes and pushed and pulled each other up and down the wet sidewalk. I remember gathering up just enough snow to barely make one, tiny, icy snow ball. We even feasted on the carrots we had bought to place on the faces of all the snowmen we were going to make that day.

Looking back, I recognize that we made the best of a situation that failed to meet our expectations because we chose to focus on the positive aspects of that day instead of the negative. That choice, I realize now, was based on a belief – albeit a naïve belief at the time – that it was going to snow, and so, it snowed.

For many, the recession over the last several years has had a lingering effect on their lives both professionally and personally. Millions of small business owners in the U.S. are still licking their wounds, while others have had to start over or change careers. Looking back on what we may have anticipated, where we are today may fail to meet our expectations. Yet despite the difficulties, I’m reminded that we have a choice to focus on the positive around us instead of the negative — and that choice too is based on a belief which the holidays renew in us: That life is meaningful under any conditions, even when it doesn’t meet our expectations.

I think that’s one of the reasons we enjoy the holidays as much as we do. We’re reminded of the importance of faith and hope in our lives and the need to believe in something greater than ourselves. The holidays remind us that there is still good in the world despite the tragedy and the difficulty — good that is worth fighting for and striving for. It’s precisely that faith and hope that can empower us to turn our businesses and our lives around — and that is the choice we have before us this holiday season. We must choose whether or not to believe.

Faith isn’t always easy or popular. We live in a skeptical society where it’s become increasingly difficult to believe in anything that we can't see with our own eyes— yet even then we’re jaded. And, no, things may not have turned out the way we expected.

But we have a choice. We can choose in our cynicism to scoff and jeer at the delicate and fragile flurries which melt upon touching our skin, or we can choose to believe, make the best of the situation, and turn the negative aspects of life into positive aspects of life.

It is my hope that we all take the time this holiday season to find those good and positive things in life that we can all believe in. It doesn’t matter what the critics may say, or what the statistics may reveal, or what the forecasters may predict, if we have faith and believe, we’ll move toward a better tomorrow.

You know, officially, “snow” in Miami is not on the weather record books. Ray Biedinger, the local weatherman who, early that morning, predicted the day would be “Cold with rain showers and the possibility of snow!” later announced, "It was an un-measurable amount that fell, so it's written down as a ‘trace’ of snow.” But we know what really happened that day... It snowed. And who knows, Miami, if it happened once, it could happen again.

Manny García-Tuñón is a columnist for El Nuevo Herald and President of Lemartec, an international design-build firm headquartered in Miami.; ;

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