I’m dreaming of a white Christmas: the crooning tones of Bing Crosby floated across the room to Izzy’s ears. She knelt on the window seat gazing through the leaded panes and absentmindedly drawing doodles in the condensation from her breath. Outside, the sky was a bleak, monochrome grey that reflected her despondent mood. The lowering clouds presaged the early onset of the December evening. Silhouetted trees formed a trellis of eerily distorted skeletons beyond the garden, casting long shadows across the dank grass and lifeless hedgerows. No sign of life apart from the odd, dead leaf fluttering across the lawn in a sudden gust of wind.
The words of the song resonated through Izzy’s head. Everything outside was so dull and lifeless: no colour. Even the holly lacked berries this year. At least a covering of snow might make the scene a little brighter.
Over her shoulder she viewed the disarray of presents, paper, tags and sticky tape scattered across the living room floor; her mother carrying out her annual ritual of wrapping while watching ‘Holiday Inn’. It was one of her favourite films and helped set the festive mood she always said.
‘I wish it would snow,’ Izzy complained. Maggie looked up, scissors in one hand, tape in the other, and smiled at her daughter.
‘Well, you never know, it might…’ She sounded bright and optimistic.
‘When was the last time it snowed at Christmas? I mean, actually on Christmas Day?’
‘Oh, I don’t know - can’t remember,’ Maggie mused. ‘Must be years, probably before you were born. I remember times when we had lots of snow but I think that was after Christmas, not actually on Christmas Day.’ She turned back to her wrapping and Izzy turned back to the window.
‘If it snowed lots, would we get snowed in?’
‘It would have to snow really hard but I suppose we might.’ Maggie looked at her watch. ‘Your Dad will be home soon.’ And humming ‘White Christmas’ to herself, she gathered up the presents and wrapping equipment.
Izzy strained to see through the gathering darkness, hoping to glimpse the first beams of headlights. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day and perhaps, just perhaps if she wished hard enough, it might snow. She closed her eyes and imagined a single, soft flake drifting past her eyeline and landing on the narrow sill outside, followed by another, then another.
Now, standing on the doorstep, Izzy could hear the church bells chiming their Christmas morning call. She opened her eyes and surveyed the crisp, white sheet covering the driveway, gradually becoming aware of the bag of presents in her hand and her husband’s voice urging her to ‘hurry up’. In less than an hour they would be at their daughter’s house watching the grandchildren open their lovingly-wrapped presents and eating mince pies. ‘I’m dreaming,’ she murmured, and smiling, she stepped carefully through the soft inches of snow to the waiting car.