I'm fifteen currently living in Arizona of the United States.
I like to read and write books and poetry and am currently working on my first novel.
I love music and the dramatic arts.
And that's about it.

Message to Readers

I'd love peer reviews for this, as I will be editing it to finalise before the end of the competition. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Snow, Desert, Ocean

November 28, 2019

December was always a time of great excitement and joy for me. I still remember being little and living in Idaho, where the snow piled so high we could sled down it right in our very own front yard. I remember getting bundled up in big thick coats, so layered that I couldn't bend my arms all the way and ended up waddling around the snow like an awkward penguin, but happy nonetheless. I remember my sisters and I playing together though we were so little at the time we weren't in the snow for more than ten minutes a day.

But those were long ago, memories so faint and far away that I can no longer feel any connection to that place. Instead, we moved to a polar opposite, even though it was only two states away from where we used to be. Arizona: the desert that stole my heart. 

In December in Arizona, no one waddles around like penguins in fur coats. Most people hardly wear fur coats at all, because there is no snow and the temperatures feel more like Autumn than a real winter. I remember one day I went to school and for the first time, a thin layer of silver frost blanketed the grass, as if Santa himself had sprinkled fairy dust all over the school much to our great excitement. Christmas is even better. It's not snowing, so of course we can't go sledding or skiing but instead we played football or soccer. And of course, it was still cold enough to enjoy hot chocolate while watching TV, thought for me, the cup was filled more with marshmallows than actual chocolate. I always regretted it.

Yes, December was always the best time for us in the desert. But it was not to last.

I remember the day when my parents sat my siblings and I all down and told us the heart-shattering news that we would be leaving our beloved hometown and moving across the globe. And not only would we be moving west, we would also move into the southern hemisphere, to live in a place I never thought I'd see: Australia, Land Down-under.

And so, I left, from thorny cacti, to luscious trees, from red desert sand to sprawling golden beaches, and all the while longing for the beautiful deserts and the serene winters of Arizona. Yet I knew with a grim understanding that it was very likely I'd never see it again.

Everything was different in Australia. We spent our first December a few months after we arrived there, and it was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. We didn't sit by the fire sipping hot chocolate. We didn't dress in sweatpants and a warm jacket or marvel at the layer of frost that blanketed the grass. 

For the first time in my entire life, we went swimming in December. I remember the beach being filled to the brim with people, and as I smeared sunscreen on my arms, I realized how foreign it felt. It didn't feel like December at all. And I found myself remembering those wonderful days in the desert, where it was just cold enough to sip hot chocolate and stay indoors, but not too cold that we couldn't enjoy the crisp cool outside air either. Those winters were perfect. These winters, with the stifling hot sun beating down on us from above and the sand burning our feet from beneath, were awful. Horrifying. Wrong.

And yet, I learned to like it. No, I could never love December in Australia. Nothing could beat that of Arizona. But I soon came to accept that life was different here and Christmas could still be enjoyed just as much. And as I've lived here in Australia and thought back to the other Decembers I've experienced, I'm come to realise that December has no singular description. 

December is a fluid being, filling the hearts of each soul just a little differently. For people in Idaho, December will always be cold snowy winters, with waddling penguin-children. For Arizonans, a cool air, and frosty ground, not freezing, but certainly not burning. And to Australians, December will always be a blistering hot sun and days at the beach.

To all these and countless others, December is something. But it is always different. And for me, it is not one or a combination of any of these. Having lived in these three different place, experiencing their three very different winters, I have come to know December personally, in ways many don't or will not know.

December, to me, is a powerful thing. It brings people together in different ways all over the world, and makes those like me who have seen its other forms, appreciate its effect on those it touches, and the way it brings a balance and serenity to the earth like no other time of the year can do. It is a time of reflection and change for many as it wraps up the year in a nice red and green Christmas bow and makes way for January to begin anew. 

I'm moving back to Arizona this December. To be honest, though I look forward to the winter there, a part of me will always remain in the soothing ocean waves and the merciless scorching sun of Australia, the island that stole my heart.


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