by Emma Rose Kraus
We couldn’t have been more than ten years old. We would huddle into our new winter coats and walk down the sidewalk looking at all the toys and wonderful things trapped behind the glass storefronts. Sometimes we would press our noses up against the windows, leaving marks for the owners to fret over in the morning when they came to unlock the doors. Mostly, we would point and whisper over the things we wanted to find under our respective trees on Christmas morning.
That was twenty years ago and still, not a Christmas goes by when I do not think of you and our time spent wistfully gazing at all the pretty things that we saw all shiny and new and just out of our little mitten-handed reach as we walked down Main Street - just the two of us with no adults or parents to hold us back.
Back then, we were children, and so we were allowed to hold hands and skip down the road together. We were allowed to give sweet kisses on the cheeks and lips to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’.
Back when we were children, we were allowed to cling to one another as we slept in the same bed. Allowed to be alone with each other for hours and hours. Allowed to play as if we were married with no strange looks from the grown-ups.
But, then, childhood ends. And it seemed to us that ours did much too suddenly. And we were no longer allowed to hold so tightly to each other as we skipped down the road. No longer allowed to give sweet kisses of any kind on the other’s cheeks and lips. No longer allowed to sleep in the same bed. No longer allowed to play as if we were married. No longer allowed to even say those three little words: “I love you.”
But, we could still look through the windows at all the wonderful things that Christmas time seemed to bring to our little town. And so, it became so special. It became so important that we meet every year to do this simple act. This small token of our love that we could openly give to one another.
This will be the first year I will walk by the storefronts without you. With no one to brush the back of their mittened hand gently against my own. No one to press their nose to the window, leaving their own mark beside mine. This year is different.
This year you are spending Christmas with someone who you are allowed, even encouraged to hold tightly to as you walk down the street together. You are able to kiss them on their cheeks, lips, forehead, everywhere and the two of you are already sleeping in the same bed every night. It’s not that much of a surprise, you are getting married in January. Still, I have never once heard you say to them those three little words: “I love you”.
Nowadays when I catch your eyes with my own, I only find empty sadness where there used to be light and life.
You have become one of the storefronts. Your eyes are tall, glass windows separating me from the prettiest trinkets, the most wonderful gifts. And as I walk down the path we used to take together, hand in hand, I wonder if you understand you can still come back. There is still time. Still hope.
This is why I am here now; standing at the doorstep of the home you now share with them. I am here to remind you of the storefronts and the Christmases past and those yet to come. Would you give me one last Christmas before you commit yourself to them? Come with me one last time and we can leave nose-shaped smudges on the storefront windows.
Copyright 2016 The Gayly – December 21, 2016 @ 7:45 a.m.