Day 1, Story 1: The Snowflake’s Journey

Hello! I see you’ve noticed me in the morning sun. I was hoping you would. Please know that while my delicate form may seem miraculous, and my spirit bold for traveling all these miles, I sure-as-shooting-stars didn’t start out this way.

Have you ever heard the saying “as pure as the driven snow”? The truth is, we snowflakes all start out riding the coattails of dust. That’s right–dust! 

I want to share with you the cold, crystallized, and sometimes wonderful truth of it all. And how I wound up here, on your mitten.

A wee speck of moisture in an airborne ocean, I was. No different from trillions of vaporized kin, I remained anonymous but content for a while. How long, you ask? Who can say? Time moves slowly up there. Until it moves fast.

One uneventful day, I detected a shift in the air and in my soul. A deep yearning welled up in my molecules. A growing suspicion that I was destined for something greater. This pull was vague but undeniable. I decided then and there to follow this conviction wherever it may lead. To let it, and myself, take shape.

Not long after, a tiny castoff from a wayward westerly meandered aimlessly in my general direction. At odds with my grandiose thoughts, I was drawn to this run-of-the-mill particle. Through some inexplicable alchemy, we bonded.

We went together like thunder and lightning, which are really one and the same. I had no idea what this would mean for me. I felt scared. Everything was up in the air, so to speak.

Remembering the calling I felt, I considered the possibilities. Perhaps this was the beginning.

Just as I acclimated, and could no longer imagine life without this new part of me, a chill brought new change. Swift as the Kuroshio current, temperatures dipped and a process of metamorphosis was precipitated. 

The roundness of my ethereal being transformed into crisp, angular sharpness. I became multi-faceted, with six delicate branches. Through blasts of cold and warm air, my newly formed arms morphed, refined, and extended, as if reaching out for an unknown future. 

So began the fall from all I’d ever known. As you can probably imagine, it’s a dizzying descent from the upper atmosphere to this rough-and-tumble earth. There were times when I thought I might melt. Times when I felt I was moving sideways instead of forward, which in this case was down. Uncertainty abounded yet I knew I had to carry on. 

I’m not sure how long this expedition lasted. In fact, I began to wonder if there was even a destination at all when lo and behold, at long last, I alighted at the North Pole. 

There I was, perched on the highest tip of a reindeer’s antler before a quick shake of his head loosed me once again. I drifted and swirled briefly until landing at the foot of a young elf.

Like you, she must have been struck by my elegant structure, the artful handiwork of Mother Nature herself. No sooner had I settled, when the elf scooped me up into a perfect sphere of a snowball. And she had an arm!

Suddenly, I was airborne in a way that defied the laws of physics as I had thus far experienced them. This velocity was breathtaking. Straight and purposeful like an arrow. I felt alive but also nervous. Where would this trajectory lead? Over the head of a mischievous toy maker who ducked just in time and–smash! Into the back of Santa’s sleigh, it turns out. Upon impact, a flurry of new and familiar sensations crashed together.

I was disoriented, yet oddly fixed in place. Back to feeling like just another face in the cloud, yet thankful to be part of this festive scene. Of all the places to wind up, I found myself here! 

I glimpsed an old neighbor on an ice sculpture, but there was no time for hellos. Bells and cheers rose, and so did we. Up and away from the earth. Most astonishing! 

We quickly reached Santa’s intended elevation and again I experienced a way of flying that I could not previously have conceived. Soaring as part of a team. Without the foggiest clue about where we were going, I was eager to see what lay ahead.

A few rooftops into our trip, we hit turbulence. The reindeer bucked. There was a jerk and jolt, a dip and a drop, and my fellow frozen passengers and I began plummeting. We were a helpless clump in free fall until a passing nor’easter scattered us.

That very gust brought me here to your front yard. I found myself surrounded by fresh-faced snowflakes. They’d just arrived and sparkled excitedly in the moonlight. To them, the world was new. In them, I saw my younger self.

The night’s stillness was broken by the scraping of beastly snow plows, passing by then fading away, growling into the distance. The darkness of night bowed to the blue glow of dawn, stars now barely visible in the wake of a nimbostratus. As the sun emerged, I saw red birds foraging red berries and soon, there were rosy cheeked children bundled up and venturing out into a landscape remade.

Then I saw you! Marching out from your yellow house, the color of high noon on a sunny day, you carried a silver sled. You shielded your eyes from our brilliant albedo, boots sinking into powder.

I detected a sense of awe and kindred spirit. A new feeling bubbled up. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Behind you, a much smaller child came out to play. He wore a fuzzy hat the color of pine needles and a look of determination. He tried to run but could only trudge as if pulled back by an invisible rope, due to his short stature and our impressive depth. Unfazed, he plodded his way to an enormous snowbank.

This temporary mountain towered over him. No matter. Step by step, sometimes pulling himself up with his insulated hands, he fought to reach the summit. Ah, but just when triumph seemed assured, he lost his footing, and rolled bumpily down the steep slope until landing face-first in the snow. 

He cried seemingly inconsolably, wailing skyward to curse the heavens. Snowflakes stuck to his eyelashes and tears poured down his flushed face. But you were there to comfort him. You gently picked him up and dusted him off, and all was calm. This was moving to me, as I know how traumatic a fall can be. 

Next, you surveyed the land and a look of creative inspiration came over your face. You began balling up snow and rolling the ball, gathering emotional steam and physical mass with each step. I watched as this process continued into late morning. 

You stepped back to assess your work. There were three imperfect spheres, stacked with the largest on the bottom and the smallest on top. It was pleasing to my eye, despite the lack of elven ease and precision. This was a labor of love.

A woman came out and handed you a striped garment. You wrapped it around what I assumed was the neck of what I began to realize was an abstract human form. Rocks became steely eyes, a carrot gamely took on the role of nose, and a small branch formed a wry, knowing smile. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. 

After another brief evaluation of your work, you turned in my direction and bent down to grab more snow. Once again I had the fantastically odd sensation of being raised up, against gravity and instinct. This time I felt nothing but joy.

You patted the handful of snow carefully, adding round cheeks to the snow human’s face. 

As you finished sculpting, I remained on your mitten. And then I caught a glint of sun and your eye. Perhaps it was chance. Perhaps I didn’t want to let go.

Ahem! Well, that’s that. There you have it and here we are. 

Yes, it’s been quite a journey, indeed.  Meeting you this Christmas morning has made it all worthwhile. 

Would you look at that? The sun is now high in the sky and the day is warming. Won’t be long now!

Farewell, friend, I’m onto what’s next. I do hope I’ll see you the next time around.

The end for now

(Note: Remaining holiday stories can be found here as they are released each day from 12/13 through 12/24.)