I love my fingers being a little cold and hiding my hands in a shawl or in the pockets of my coat. I love wrapping myself in oversized sweaters or blankets and drinking chai with cardamom and ginger and cloves and licorice root. I love the snow and the snow boots and big scarves (but I never wear hats).
I love the lights that decorate the season—the fairy lights for Christmas, the menorah, the lanterns we light for Diwali, the streetlights that turn on earlier and earlier. I love that the people before us took this cold and unforgiving season and made it warmer than even the summer.
I love the parties—although there are far less of them now and with less people. I love the warm kitchen with all the elements of the stove in use. I love the smell of foods—the potatoes being fried in a batter of chickpea flour and the curries and the sweets and the butter simmering in a large pot. I love picking at the piles of food in large trays as my mother prepares it. I love a crowded living room with people sitting on the sofa and the extra chairs and the floor, all eating, all asking for something. I love (and don’t tell my mother this) being called to bring this or that, to do this or that, to hear this or that.
I love the mismatched plates and bowls, especially the metal ones, because we have to bring out all the dishes for all the food. I even love cleaning all the dishes at the end of the night. I love keeping the children away from the stove. I love being surrounded by the women—none of them blood relatives but all of them aunts and cousins and sisters and nieces and found family.
I love laying comforters on the floor for people staying over. I love fitting the guests in our house like a 3D game of tetris. I love opening the beds to take the blankets we stored there through the year and I love figuring out who can share with whom. I love rounding up all the bedsheets and cushions and warm things we have. I love the little girls going to sleep in my room because they are excited about a sleepover with “older sister” but waking up in the middle of the night to squeeze into their mothers’ arms.
I love the late-night phone calls home, not my home anymore. I love FaceTime and WhatsApp and barging in on my parents’ conversations with their parents and their siblings. I love the jokes, even the ones I don’t understand.
I love the blanket Charlotte knit for me, I love the shawl my grandmother sent me, I love the three-dollar set of fake vintage papers my friend gave me for Christmas last year. I love the 500-rupee note my grandfather gave me, the one I will never use and will probably frame at some point. I love getting letters from the friends that moved because they’re more special than texts.
I love scarves and gloves and books and hoodies and boots strewn across the floor and loud voices overlapping and roaring laughter and the ladies yelling, “don’t worry sister, I can do it!” and e-cards and chocolate and leftovers in ziploc bags and sweeping the floor for the fourth time that day and confusion and bangles and new pyjamas and flowing hair and mustard seed oil and cotton wicks and burnt out lamps and I understand. I understand why Diwali was quiet last year and why it will be quiet still this time, but I love winter and the holidays and there is no other point to this note.
I love winter and I hope all the holidays this month and next month and next year are warm and fun for you as they have been for me.