So you wanted a white Christmas, huh?

"At least a few flakes," said Tony Butler, 35. "I mean, something to make it seem like December instead of April."

It did seem a little warm to be midway between the eggnog display at the Giant Food Store and the shelf of rum at the liquor store, as Butler was. But yesterday, Washington was fooled again by Mother Nature, who seems determined to upstage Santa and Bing Crosby and bring our region at least 65-degree temperatures on this Christmas Day.

It is likely that the Washington area's Christmas will be tan instead of white, the rosy result of yesterday's 66 degrees, which saw joggers going bare-chested under a low-powered December sun, and shirtsleeved diners at outdoor cafes juxtaposed with decorated evergreens. Winter coats became just additional bundles in the arms of the shoppers who crowded streets and stores in the annual last-minute rush to Christmas joy.

Today's highs, according to the National Weather Service, should range between 65 and 70 degrees under partly cloudy skies, with rain expected after dark. Overnight lows will hover in the upper 40s -- just like Christmas in Hollywood, where temperatures are predicted to be about the same.

Butler, who said he is employed by the White House as a painter, remarked that, if he had his way, he would put in for something "a little more Christmasy."

"You know, something kinda cold, so you could sit by the fire," he elaborated. "A little warmth, a little woman, eggnog in your hand and snow on the ground. Now that's Christmas, if you know what I mean."

Maybe it is something about Washington, perhaps the greenhouse effect over Capitol Hill or the swamp fumes from Foggy Bottom, but this area just does not have much of a record of snow for St. Nick.

Last year, according to the National Weather Service, there was a trace of snow at National Airport on Christmas Day, but not enough to measure. The last time there was snow on the ground on Dec. 25 was in 1976, when a whopping 2/10ths of an inch was recorded.

"Man," said Butler, heading for the liquor store at Vermont and L Streets NW. "There's only one explanation: Washington is one messed-up kind of town."