I layered my clothes with tired eyes. First the undershirt, then the long-sleeve button-up, then my sweatshirt. I went to the bathroom, and tried to get my appearance somewhat manageable looking. It was still dark outside, but the layers of thick snow reflected the light back up. I could hear the truck shoveling the snow off the road. Hopefully it wasn’t too bad, otherwise I would have to take a different road than usual.
I grabbed my backpack and the things I needed for the day and headed to my car. The air was dry and cold like someone trying to take a slick knife and cut through me. My car was covered in an inch of white powder, I could deal with that. I opened the car door and snow fell like dust onto the passenger seat. I turned on the car and grabbed my ice scraper. I brushed off the snow that impeded my vision and then got into the car. I pulled out of the driveway and drove carefully to school. I turned on the heat and it blew shocking air into my face, which was already pink at the tips from the icy outside. The steering wheel was cold underneath my bare hands and as the non-functioning heat blew piercing air, directly onto them.
As I drove I remembered a few years back, six to be more precise. I was eleven years old then. I remember a young girl walking to school.
She was bundled up in layers of clothes. She knew the way, even though she had only gone to this school for a few months. She forgot to have her mom sign her planner, again. What would Mrs. Barlow think. She didn’t want to disappoint her again. What would she do at recess when they were free to play outside. It was too cold to sit on the hill or under the tree and too icy to walk around. Maybe today someone would want to do something with her. Maybe she could be with her cousin Daniel and his friends. Maybe. She kept her eyes on the ground wary of the layers of ice on the sidewalk. Her cheeks were cold and getting rosy.
The walk home was warmer, she had made it through another day. The ice had melted from the morning and now it was just wet and cold. The snow still remained, hiding the blades of grass. Christmas was on the way and she felt warmer thinking about it.
The weekend before Christmas her dad rolled up in his rickety car that smelled like a mixture of dust and old carpet. She and her sister Grace climbed in. She got to sit in front and talk to Dad. They were on their way to Sandy, a thirty minute drive from Salt Lake City. That was where her Grandparents lived.
Her dad was talking about planes and how he used fly his own. Sometimes he would drift into the technical details, which she found boring and interesting at the same time. She tried to hang on to his conversation but as she watched the highway through the window her thoughts melted into anticipation. Nanna and Gramps were there, and Christmas was always different and familiar.
“I hate U-Dot, they ruin the freeway exits.”
“What’s U-Dot?” She asked.
“They are in charge of roads.” Dad said. They drove up the same path they always took up to her Grandparents, but this time it was cold and the vivid life from the summer faded into grey. Once they reached the house they were warmly greeted by family.
“Amelia!”. Everyone embraced her warmly, ignoring the cold which seemed to radiate off of her. They said her name the South African way, emphasizing the e. She was home. They went into the house and sat on the sofa while the cable channel playing classical music gently eased itself between the conversation.
Her cousin Mackay, Aunts Kirsteen and Chevon, and uncle Justin were all there. The scent of lamb, broccoli and potatoes hung in the air. Finally they went to the table. Nanna had decorated it with rich reds and golds, a welcome contrast to the bleak outside. The crackers in shiny foil begged to be opened. As they all gathered together they popped open the crackers and enjoyed the cheap, but special contents.
Then they all got a portion of the food Nanna had made. Tender lamb with mint jelly, scalloped potatoes, broccoli and cheese casserole, complemented by a cranberry sparkling cider. Finally, Nanna shared the fruitcake. Her Great Grandma would make one from scratch when she was alive and she apparently would drench it in whiskey and set it ablaze. We ate in memory of her and in memory of all of our ancestors.
Once a year before she told her friend about her Christmas at Nanna’s and was reminded how frigid being different was. But she enjoyed mint jelly and lamb even if others did not.
My mouth watered at the memory and was brought back into the present. Luckily my heater had finally warmed up and the steering wheel was not as cold as before. The snow was already beginning to melt under the heat of the sun.