When I enter the home, there’s a billow of warmth. I associate this with Christmas: winter’s biting contrast. Orange lights. Woody smells. Space heaters scattered across the floor.

I think of all the things that made me love the holidays. Not gifts or merchandise. More of the intangibles. Like the bustle of people at the mall two weeks before Christmas. Frantic scramble of bags and families and lines and cashiers. Smell of gingerbread. Mariah belting out on the radio the day after Thanksgiving, Jingle of Christmas spirit. Tunes on the antique radio at the banh mi shop. Sound of mall Santa in his snowy cotton beard, his bellows drowned out by the sound of mini trains skating across the grounds.

Family. Family photos. The black tights and tight black dress. The brown boots and fur coats. People crowding around the Nutcracker for a family photo, waiting their turn. The crunch of overpriced glossy nuts. The chill of ice sculptures and articulacy made snow hills. Restaurants swimming in orders and beers and chit chat. Lights, lights everywhere.

Then the quiet crackle of fire on the rare Christmas days we would have it up. Even the artificial one, like the one that crisply played on the television screen as we drank dark cinnamon drenched mulled wine. Orange peels had floated in the mulled wine, I remember, as I had scooped cup after cup. Warmth of family, friendship, fake fires, and fruity wine.


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