“They better have gold tinsel here,” mom growled as she turned the car into the parking lot. I said nothing. This morning she had declared that was must have gold tinsel for tonight’s party. This was our third stop.
“Wait here,” she ordered and jumped out of the car. I was already so crowded with groceries, I couldn’t have followed if I’d wanted to. The previous store had tinsel of every color, except gold.
“We’re terribly sorry, Ma’am. But I’m afraid that is a popular color. We do have antique bronze.” But mom was stuck on gold. She did this every year. Fixating on one that that we must have or else Snowflake day would be ruined. Last year, she’d decided just before the party that she needed whole nutmeg to finish off the pecan pie.
Dad and I had to travel across town to find the one grocery store that was still open. They only had ground nutmeg. When we’d returned empty handed it was only the guests’ arrival that stopped her tirade.
The car door slammed as mom returned. Empty-handed. I watched the falling snow turned the streets to ice. We passed houses and business awash in smears of red and swollen inflatable animals. I wished the day was over. We carried the groceries in and found Aunt Emma had arrived to help prepare.
“Violet, go help your father with the decorations,” Mom ordered glaring at my aunt. I was all to grateful. Mom hated dad’s sister. Soon they would be shouting at each other.
Dad was hiding in the den downstairs. He looked up guiltily as I came in. “I didn’t hear you return.” Then he looked at me, eyes flicking upstairs.
“No tinsel,” I answered. “Mom wants us to decorate.” He finished his drink in one swallow and stood up with a heavy sigh.
“Don’t know why, she’ll just say it’s all wrong and make us redo it,” he muttered.
Dad’s prediction was true. We spent the afternoon moving the buffet table from one side of the room to the other, hanging and rehanging garlands, stringing lights, and moving chairs. Every time we thought we had finished, mom would emerge from the kitchen with new orders.
“Why aren’t you dressed yet?!” She cried in a panic after having us exchange the tablecloth for the third time. She grabbed the tablecloth from me and shooed me to my room. I fled.
“Violet!?” I heard mom’s call down the hall. “Come and say hello to Grandma Anne.”
I closed my book and left my room, with a sigh. I’d hoped I would escape notice all night. It had been only a half hour. Downstairs, I saw chaos was in full swing. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and strangers all crowded in the living room. Plates of half-eaten food and empty drinks littered any surfaces not filled currently in use. The Snowflake Music playing didn’t manage to drown out the room’s forced joviality.
After we ate, it was time to open presents. Tradition was, every child under 18 would get one present from a random relative. Which adult had which child was secret, but I was certain I knew what I was getting. I’d gotten socks for the past three years straight.
“Can’t I just request money? Then I could buy something I wanted.”
“Where’s the snowflake spirit in that?” Mom chided, “Plus socks are useful.” I resigned myself to 6 more years of socks before I was 18 and wouldn’t be subject to the gift receiving anymore.
I spent the second half the party picking up plates and cups. Dad had disappeared with the guys, although I could hear drunken laughter coming from the den. Mom was holding court in the living room, complaining about the lack of gold tinsel. She was fishing for compliments. The ladies were happy to oblige telling her our house was “just lovely” and “perfect for the season.”
I love staying up late. On Snowflake day, I wished I didn’t have to wait until the last guests staggered out the door before I could go to my room.
“And that make it the best Snowflake Day ever,” Dad concluded and closed the book with an audible snap. I lay in front of the fire with my eyes closed. It was my favorite story about misfit children finding the wonderment of the season.
“Oh – the turkey!” Mom said. I heard her jump up and run off.
Dad ambled into the kitchen after her. “Is it done?”
“I think so.” They conversed for several moments before I heard them confirm that yes, it was ready.
I jumped up and ran to set the table with our snowflake dishes as they brought out the meal. The house smelled like cinnamon and roasting turkey. We were famished.
Dad cooked all our favorite dishes to go with mom’s family turkey recipe. Green beans with pine nuts for me, rosemary mashed potatoes for mom, and Yorkshire pudding for himself. I’d always thought Yorkshire pudding was…well pudding. But it’snot. It’s bread and delicious.
After dinner we refilled our mugs of cocoa an headed back to the tree. I pulled out the stack of gifts and piled them in front of each of us. We took turns opening our gifts. I got dad a new kitchen apron and just for fun a funny chef’s hat. This past year dad had started cooking more and more since mom worked late now.
He tried the hat on immediately after opening it. It looked so ridiculous it was several moments before we could stop laughing. I got mom some lavender bubble bath and a microwavable heading pad.
“Oh honey,” mom said with a big smile as she opened my gift.
“The guy at the store said you can buy some essential oils for aroma therapy.”
“Your turn, Laurie.” Dad grinned as he handed me my last gift from them.
I tore open the wrapping paper wondering what it would be, it was hard like a book but too wide.
“Oh!” I gasped. It was a hard cover notebook and a packet of pens.
“For your stories,” Dad explained as I opened the notebook. Each page was like an empty promise. A story to be told.
“And this is for inspiration,” Mom said handing over her gift. My own copy of a The Best Snowflake Day. Hardcover and beautifully illustrated.
“Oh, thank you both!” I threw my arms around them both. “It’s perfect.”
Later that night, we drove around town looking at the lights and decorations of all the neighbors. I stared at the window, nose pressed to the glass as the glittering lights and festive lawns passed by. This was my favorite time of year.
Laurie gave Violet a big hug, holding her close. Her suitcase lay on the sidewalk next to the car, bulging with gifts.
“I’m gonna miss you,” Laurie said. “I wish you were coming too.”
“You know how I feel about Snowflake day,” Violet shrugged. “Don’t worry, when you get back from your parents we’ll have a big celebration for New Years. I’m happy to let this holiday slide into oblivion. It’s been nothing but bad memories.”
Laurie thought about the small gift wrapped in her suitcase, she should give it to Violet now. No need to drag it all the way home and back, but… She gave her girlfriend a kiss and then picked up the suitcase.
“I’ll be back in five day,”
“Text me when you get there.”
Violet got back in the car and Laurie watched her disappear. Violet had explained how her mom went crazy every year for Snowflake day, but to not celebrate it at all. That seemed tragic somehow. If only she would come. Laurie wanted to share her family’s Snowflake Day with Violet. If she’d just give it chance, perhaps she’d learn to love the holiday too.
Violet watched Laurie disappeared into the distance and breathed a sigh of relief. She was certain Laurie was going to give her a present or wish her a seasons greetings or something. As much as she loved Laurie, she had an allergic reaction to Snowflake day. Just the thought of it made Violet want to scream. Too many traumatic memories. As good as Laurie’s intentions were, she just wanted to barf when she saw a wrapped gift.
Rather than suffer through a Snowflake Day she didn’t have to, Violet was going to go home, curl up in front of the fire and read a book. It started to snow. Violet swore, giant picturesque flakes obscured the road in front of her. Turning it to ice. She could hardly see. People always went on about how perfect snow was on Snowflake day. Violet failed to see how dangerous road contentions were a good thing.
It isn’t about holding onto the past. It’s about make new memories.
Credits & Special thanks to: SimCookies Snow Mod