Cold air nipped at my nose as she placed her gloved fingers in mine. She could always make winter better for me. The cold and the mist were things that would dampen anyone’s spirits, but with her it became a fairy tale. The kind of winter you read about in books, where everything becomes magical, transformed by the glittering snow.
The mountains in the distance were shrouded in fog and snow. She was wearing the scarf I had knit her last winter. As we walked back to the car, Christmas tree permit clutched tightly in her other hand, she looked up at me and smiled, nearly dancing with excitement for our upcoming adventure.
I remember our first winter together. The cozy little apartment we got together with its mismatched furniture purchased from thrift stores around town. The many strings of random Christmas lights arranged haphazardly about the doorways and window frames. Our matching blue dinnerware all piled in the sink, the counter crowded with our various favorite hot winter beverages.
Our living room was a chaotic mess of scarves hats sweaters and other various winter items. Our knitting was lying in a heap on the coffee table, all mixed in together and the TV was quietly chunnering on to itself about penguins.
We put the tree in a small corner and decorated it with various mismatched baubles. She always did like a white Christmas, with the snow piled everywhere in great heaps. I had always hated Christmas; the loudness, the fighting, the forced social interactions, and the anxiety the dark cold months brought on.
Winter with her was bright and happy full of life and laughter. She brought warmth in where there had not been any for years. Winter became magic, suddenly all the fanciful Christmas songs made sense, and all the decorations put out early excited me rather than depress me farther.
When I first met her I could tell Montana winters were her thing. I’d be running errands and think to myself, “Wow, this is something she’d love.” Going to cut our own tree had been a tradition in my younger years, something that had always been a romantic idea of mine.
Decorations my grandmother made us took up most of the space on the tree, Gramma had taken to her instantly. It didn’t matter to her that I was different, she still loved me with that same fierce love, which was then extended to her. She still loved having us come over for Christmas dinner.
Winters were better now, brighter, warmer, cozier; something I had been searching for avidly, for quite some time. I’m quite happy to never go back.
It’s all I think about when I’m out. What it would be like with you here, how much happier I’d be, how much I’d love winter and Christmas, how much you’d love it here, and adore everything about it here. It is a dream I’m determined to see through.
For my darling Hayley, because I cannot get you off my mind.