I was tired and still sniffling when I walked upstairs to my bedroom.
The mood in the house had been a lot better than it had been in years as we sat of the sofa, watching It’s a Wonderful Life together.
I was about to get ready for bed when I heard a tap on my window. I stood up, alert, eyeing the closed curtains with suspicion. I listened closely and realised there was some sort of humming sound coming from outside. What was that? I walked towards the window and just before I got there, I heard a louder tap on the window. It was stones being thrown. Furious at whoever was deciding to hurl stones at my window on Christmas Eve, I pulled the curtain aside.
I couldn’t believe my eyes at first. The floor was white, covered in a thin layer of snow. It took me a moment to realise that it was actually just on the floor outside my house. That was when I spotted Noah, standing next to a silver box. It was a snow machine.
I ran down the stairs, grabbing my coat from the hanger and quickly putting it on before going outside. I stepped out and found myself surrounded by falling faux snowflakes. It looked like the real deal. I marvelled at how the white flakes stood out on my black hair.
I stopped looking at the ‘snow’ and turned to face Noah. He was standing with his hands in his pockets, looking rather more shy than usual.
“How on earth did you do this?” I asked, waving my arms around at the snow.
“I hired it out,” he said, a sheepish smile forming on his face. “With the help of your brother, of course.”
“Nick helped you do this?” I asked, astonished.
He nodded. “It was the last thing on my list,” he told me, taking a step forward. “I know how much you love show, but I also know how impossible it is for us to actually have a real snowfall, so I got the next best thing. I know it won’t ever be as amazing as real snow, but—”
“I love it,” I interrupted. “I can’t believe you thought of this.”
I looked around again at the little flakes that were starting to pile up on the ground around us. The trees in my garden were sprinkled white. It was amazing how real it seemed. I looked back at Noah, bits of white gathering in his hair. He’d done all of this for me, even after the way I’d treated him.
“I’m sorry about yesterday,” I said, my voice seeming louder in the stillness of the night. It was silent as we stood there, apart from the low, whirring noise of the snow machine. “I took everything out on you and I shouldn’t have. You were trying to cheer me up, and I was so ungrateful.”
“It’s okay, Lily,” he assured. “Everyone handles things differently. Everyone takes a different amount of time to heal. But I really don’t think this is what your dad would have wanted for you.” Once again, his eyes were pleading with me to understand and for once, I think I finally did. “Your dad loved this time of year,” he reminded me. “He wouldn’t want you being upset at Christmas because of him. He’d hate that and you know it.”
I did know it. Deep down, I’d always known, I just couldn’t bring myself to face up to it. My dad was one of the most festive people you could ever meet. He always went out of his way to make sure everyone in our town had a happy Christmas. He’d organise events for the community, help out food banks for families in need. He was everyone’s Christmas angel and I never thought I could face a Christmas without him. But Nick and Noah were right. The world wasn’t going to stop. I was going to have to face this every single year, there was no escaping it. I had to choose whether to hide away in my own self-pity, or embrace it, use it as a time to remember the great person my dad was. And I knew which one I was going to choose from now on.
I stepped forward, just inches away from Noah. “Thank you,” I whispered to him.
“Have I done the impossible and made you finally fall in love with Christmas again?” he asked, his usual, playful grin reappearing.
“You certainly have,” I replied. “If anyone could bring magic back to Christmas, it’s you.”
He stepped towards me, closing the last little bit of space between us. He took hold of my hands as we stood there in the snow, and brought his lips down to meet mine. For just one moment, nothing else mattered.
After what felt like forever, I finally took a step back, feeling slightly flushed. The slight flash of pink on Noah’s cheeks told me he was feeling the same.
“Now I have a new reason to love Christmas,” I said, smiling up at him.
Whilst I would still wake up on Christmas Eve filled with that same aching sadness, I’d also have a reason to smile at the end of the night.