I thought, Where is the holiday? while I rubbed my dry hands together and waited for the defroster to kick in. I don’t truly mean Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever others, but more the notion of “happy holidays”, that weird turn-of-phrase that means something and yet nothing. I thought, Where’s the snow? Where’s the happy lingering smell of cinnamon? as I put my car in drive, peering over the unmelted sheets of ice. I had to get going, I was late already.
Winter holidays mean something else when you’re a kid than when you’re an adult. It’s all peppy music in school, Christmas pageants and red and green construction paper, and hopes and hopes and hopes for snow days. The one time that I cared to watch the morning news, to see if Augusta County’s schools were closed along with those envied mountainous districts in West Virginia. Winter meant my mother was baking cookies by the dozen. Winter meant flagging pages in the Toys ‘R Us catalog.
I am an adult now somehow. I don’t know what happened. No one warned me about holidays in adultland where stale Christmas pop blares across every store. Did I wait too long to claim a bag of rock salt at the store? Where the hell did I put my ice scraper? Who’s to say my car will even start in this cold? And work, oh, I need to request the time off before everyone else claims the spots. Traffic, there’s going to be wicked-awful traffic. Come to think of it, did I buy Chris a present yet? What would he want? Socks for the third year in a row?
Where’s the joy? I thought as I sat in traffic, my hands still cracked with cold. A minivan sidled up next to my beat-up car, wearing big felty false reindeer antlers. I looked at it. I wanted to see around the front; was there a red nose on the grill?
That minivan would know where the holiday went. That mechanical reindeer would know.