The little flecks become like an army –strong and lasting– as they fell by the multitude. A winter breeze catches them, and through a whipping, circular motion, a wind tunnel of snow greets us. One thing about snowflakes, they lack any real smell, but I think of throat lozenges as they fall to the grass.
“Where?” Kara asks.
My eyes dart away from the falling snow. My cherished moment of solitude evaporates, as if the silent winter day turns into a puddle at the sound of a voice.
“That little store, the one where you can buy a joke book,” I say.
“You can’t be serious? What kind of present is that?”
Kara is fifteen, tall, strong-willed and causes me fits. She’s also the smartest child I’ve ever met. Her mother warned me she had entered the difficult teen zone, but Betsy and I were just as difficult for our mother.
“We’ll just browse then,” I say.
A bell rings as we enter the shopping mall. Some people crowd us as we go through the double doors, but it’s two days before Christmas and many people shop frantic at this time of year.
We pass a store and Kara stops. I see what captivates her. It’s a dress, no, it’s a wonder of silver glitter, short, swinging, with a ‘v’ neck cutout and a sequence of beads. It is youthful and pretty like Kara. Ever girl wants a dress like this one.
“How about I buy you that for Christmas?” I say.
“No.” It’s such a harsh word, that I step back. Kara looks down. “I couldn’t accept that.”
“Why not?” I ask.
“Mom wouldn’t approve.”
“Your mother wore one just like it when she was young woman. I know, and somewhere I have pictures.”
“The only place I have to wear it is to church.”
“God likes pretty girls in pretty dresses too. Come on, let’s at least have you try it on!”
She nods, and I see a smile, the first one since yesterday.
She finds the rack of dresses and thumbs through it. I see the one in her size, and take it off the circular bar and hand it to her. She looks like she did when she was five years old for a moment, the look of happy all across her face.
“Go on a try it on.”
She looks at the price tag. I looked at price tags once too. “It’s too expensive.”
I say, “That’s the deal with Christmas. It’s supposed to be extravagant. If you let me buy this for you, my shopping is done. It’s a favor, really. I hate to shop. Go on and try it on.”
She smiles again as she takes the dress to the dressing room. I wait.
Instrumental jazz music screeches over the speaker with its eclectic Christmas tune. It’s a razzle-dazzle of notes and riffs, long then longer and short and shorter. It’s both familiar and different.
I wait with anticipation for Christmas to arrive once again. The heart of the season is not just the presents, or even its richness; it’s that the impossible is possible.