I stumbled across this short story while searching through the files on my old laptop for my daughter’s college essay. I’m not sure when I wrote this, maybe when I first heard the phrase “climate change” back in the 80s? It’s a quirky story that ironically sums up how I feel about 2020. I hope you enjoy it. And I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!
Climate Change – a holiday story
In my refrigerator, I have half a gallon of sour milk, a few slices of turkey that are tinged green, a container of brown mush that’s either leftover stuffing or caramelized sweet potatoes, and half a loaf of moldy rye bread. Time to get to the store. I pull winter boots on over woolen socks and tuck in my jeans. I throw on my down jacket over my ugly Christmas sweater, the one with Santa in red swim trunks sipping a pina colada under a palm tree, then tug on gloves and my red and green knit cap.
I push through the front door and onto the front stoop and wave to my neighbor, Max. Max is driving his riding lawnmower along the picket fence separating our property. He’s dressed in a “Santa’s Back” T-shirt and shorts. His white sneakers are stained green from the newly-cut grass.
Overhead, the sugar maple’s leafy branches manage to shade me from the scorching winter sun, but sweat still pools under my hat and runs in rivers down my forehead. My sweater sticks to my back. The heat and humidity are claustrophobic. I find it hard to breathe in the hot, suffocating air. Even though my cap I can hear the whine of mosquitoes as they dive into feast on my face.
A couple of teenagers laugh and point at me as they roll by on skateboards then start singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” A middle-aged man driving a Mustang convertible honks. The sports car’s top is down and the backseat is piled high with packages wrapped in blue and white snowflake paper and topped with silver bows.
Dizzy from my dehydrating body, I stumble back into the house. I yank off my winter coat and kick off my boots. The gloves stick to my damp fingers like a second skin. Finally, I manage to peel them off. I slap them on the kitchen counter next to the woolen cap; they look like they’re trying to strangle the holiday spirit out of it.
As I fill a glass with cold water, the calendar on the refrigerator reminds me that Christmas is this weekend. The morning newspaper on the dinette table shouts, “Cold Snap to Continue Through the Holiday!” right next to a column about dressing in layers and avoiding hypothermia.
Through the window I see a woman in a sundress push her baby in a stroller as a four-year-old rides ahead on a tiny pink bike outfitted with training wheels.
My growling stomach reminds me the fridge is devoid of anything edible. I dash upstairs to strip down to my underwear and dig in my closet for summer clothes. I yank on a tank top, a pair of Capris, and my favorite flip flops with the green and red rhinestones.
I scoot downstairs and out the front door and step in ten inches of snow. I can’t feel my frozen toes, my calves start tingling, and my eyes, stung by the cold, produce tears that freeze to my lashes. I shiver uncontrollably. Overhead, the naked branches of the sugar maple crack in the wind.
My neighbor Max waves at me through a cloud of powdery snow while he waddles in winter gear behind his 360 Turbo Snow Blower. Two teenagers laugh and point at me as they glide by on cross-country skis and then sing “Mele Kalikimaka.” A middle-aged man in a Jeep Cherokee honks; a fir tree tied to his roof.
I shuffle on frozen limbs back into the house where I change into fleece sweat pants, shimmy into my favorite Christmas sweater, the one with Santa sipping hot cocoa by a fire, and pull on my fuzzy slippers.
Then I close the blinds and order a pizza.
Where I’ll be after the holidays:
March 20-21, 2021 – the Chicago Writers Association’s Let’s Just Write! An Uncommon Writers Conference. I’m teaching “The Benefits of Critiquing” workshop and curating the “Let’s Just Read” Live Lit Event. I have every confidence that this will be an in-person event. Join me!