It’s a small apartment in a nice old building; an architecturally interesting building, as Michael put it. As far as Sara is concerned, the essential is there: a fireplace and deep sofas, eggnog and a tree with blinking fairy lights, Jingle Bells playing in the background, and fat snowflakes whirling lazily on the other side of the windows.
Nowadays, depending on the year, the weather or their whim, they have a white Christmas or a blue Christmas.
A blue Christmas means Costa Rica.
This year, as the snowflakes smudging their windows suggest, is obviously a white one; a Chicagoan one.
After a while, after Sara was cleared, after everything settled and they stopped watching over their shoulders for the tiniest threat, they started to miss Chicago. They had never thought they would, but there it was. Not to mention Michael Jr., who wanted to see where Mom and Dad and Uncle Linc had grown up and met, and fought for truth and life, and...
Yes, after a while, they had started to miss Chicago. They made the trip to the States a few times, booked hotel rooms a few years in a row, and eventually decided to buy a small pied à terre. They take up residence every now and then; sometimes revisiting old friends. And, depending on the year, the weather or their whim, they have a white Christmas, alternating with the Costa Rican blue ones.
It’s already dark outside – a silver-grey and snowy kind of dark – warm and bathed in soft golden light inside. Sara snuggles into her favorite armchair and lets Michael deal with the table plan for tomorrow night. Plans are his cup of tea, after all. She’d rather watch the fire, listen distractedly to Michael and sip eggnog; eggnog that he had made himself earlier because, “That ready-to-drink stuff tastes like everything but eggnog.”
“Will Mike be here for Christmas Eve?” Michael asks her, glancing up from his notebook.
“Emma?” Sara grumbles into her cup. Not really a no, but not really a yes either. “Your daughter would better be here or I’ll bring her home by the back of the neck.”
Sara doesn’t even shift in her armchair, the easy familiarity of this old argument between the two of them making her smile. “How comes she’s your daughter when she graduates magna cum laude, but becomes mine when her job keeps her away?”
Michael throws her a sheepish look above the rim of his glasses. “Because she has all of your flaws, and that’s only one of the most adorable things you two share?”
This time, her answer is a very unladylike snort, and Michael has to agree. As if they could get rid of Lincoln anyway.
She sighs and sets her empty cup on the coffee table.
“Michael. Everybody will be here. And I hate to break it to you, but everybody will sit where they want to sit, and nobody will give a damn to your plan. It will be a white Christmas, it will be perfect even if it’s a bit disorganized, and –”
She shuts up and quirks an inquisitive eyebrow as he lets go of his note pad and gets up from the couch. Making his way to her side, he bends down to kiss her; her cheek first, soft and chaste, her lips then, soft too but less chaste.
“I don’t really care where everybody sits,” he confesses to her. “I just want to make sure I sit next to you.”
She kisses him back, lingers, lets him taste the eggnog on her lips, and breathes in his cologne in his neck. It never gets old, his scent, his warmth, his voice. Yet, because after years of marriage, she might still be smitten but has never been a fool, she whispers again, “Smooth talker.”
He is; it doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe what he says, though, and she knows it.
He pulls her with him on the largest, deepest sofa, and wraps a white blanket around both of them.