It was warm yesterday. Warm and frantic in the climate-controlled shopping malls, warm and lively among those who dipped into the eggnog a trifle early, warm in spirit for those so inclined. Outside, it was 57 degrees.

That was not record-breakingly warm. In 1933, it was 69 degrees the day before Christmas. But it was disappointingly warm for those who cherish a white Christmas.

The last time there was snow on Christmas was in 1969. There have been only 14 white Christmases, it seems, out of the past 90.

It is hard to measure, however, on thermometers and barometers, why a Christmas with fresh fallen snow is so important to so many people.

Or perhaps, the reporter mused, perhaps there is something in the way that snow mutes the mundane in the same old scene, or puts a little glory in the landscape on a day when there is special delight in what is untarnished in life.

But there was no snow as of yesterday, and even the warm weather, it seems, was not destined to last. This afternoon, predicted the weatherman, the wind will blow and it will gradually grow colder until Monday, when mere chance will bring the mercury much above freezing.