“Keep your coat on.” Timmy's voice drifted down the stairs as I stepped into the house reveling in the warm blast of air that greeted me. I stomped my feet more in frustration than to get any residual snow off them. One thing I learned early on was to make sure I wiped my shoes off before coming into the house. It was mid December and I had spent most of the day driving around in a car that had a moody heater so I really had no desire to go back out in the cold. I made a face as I set my briefcase down on the couch and turned to find him standing behind me dressed in jeans, a red cable knit sweater and boots. Once I managed to pick my tongue up off the floor and reengage my brain I realized he was talking. “...so I thought we might take a stroll around the neighborhood and look at the lights. I made a thermos of something warm to drink to take with us.”
The absolute last thing I wanted to do right then was go out in the cold and dark for any reason, but looking the way he did with that eager little boy smile on his face Timmy could have asked me to go get the moon and use it top our Christmas tree and I would have done my damnest to make it happen. “That sounds great honey.” I handed him his coat and waited patiently while he bundled up, chattering excited about the displays he hoped would be up again this year.
Outside the night was as cold as I remembered and I snuggled deeper into my coat even as I was threading my fingers through Timmy's. Our gloves made it a little awkward, but we managed. Timmy's happy laughter created a fog that made his glasses frost over for a moment which elicited another round of laughter. He took them off and carefully cleaned each lens before we we headed off down the driveway. I carried the thermos in my other hand and kept it cuddled close letting the heat from it sink through the wool of my coat into my skin. It wasn't much, but every little bit helps.
The sidewalks were mostly clear even though the snow was piled up against the curb and drifted into large mounds against the houses. I had to admit that it was picture post card beautiful even if I would had preferred to be seeing from behind the protective glass of a window. Winter is not on my list of top four seasons and if it wasn't for Timmy and the need to feed myself I would spend the whole time holed at home nursing a never ending mug of coffee. Some day when we both retire I plan to move some place where the temperature is an even eighty degrees all year around.
“I loved looking at lights when I was a little boy. That and music were my favorite parts of the holiday season.” Timmy's cheeks were already cold reddened and coupled with the excitement in his eyes it was easy to imagine the child he had once been. “It has been a dream of mine to have someone in my life who would enjoy seeing them as much as I do. There is something so romantic about strolling hand in hand enjoying the decorations.” He sighed happily, squeezed my hand and flashed me one of those gorgeous smiles.
“Beautiful.” I whispered though I had no idea what was even on the house we were passing.
“Yes, they are.” Timmy nodded in agreement and I let myself be led a little further down the sidewalk. I would walk across the North Pole in a blizzard as long as he kept looking at me that way.
Carefully, disengaging our hands I opened the top of the thermos and took a drink. I was expecting coffee, but it was warm, rich chocolate with just a hint of peppermint that greeted me instead. The flavor combination was heady and I handed him the thermos watching the rise and fall of his adam's apple as he drank.
“I didn't know you could buy cocoa with mint in it.” I screwed the top back on the thermos and tucked it into my pocket so my hand was free to capture Timmy's again.
“They don't.” Timmy's smile was now less star struck innocent and more devious frat boy. “I spiked it with peppermint Schnapps. I thought it would help keep you warm.”
I laughed and squeezed his hand. “It's helping.” The warm glow of alcohol spread languidly through my body and out to settle in my fingers and toes. One of the best things about Timmy is that he always thinks of others. He spoils me more than I think I deserve and enjoys it probably more than he should.
At the next house Timmy stopped and I could hear his laughter even though I had my hat pulled down as far as it would go. Following the line of his pointing finger my gaze landed on not one but three inflatable reindeer placed in what a naturalist would have called 'a mating arrangement'. “That is not exactly what I call the Christmas spirit.”
“I don't know. It looks like there is a lot of giving going on.”
He chuckled then shook his head amusement plain on his face. “I can't argue with that.”
At the corner he slowed then stopped. “How are you feeling? We can go around the block or cross the street and go back the way we came.”
My feet said go home immediately and crawl into a nice warm bed. My fingers completely agreed, but the hopeful look on Timmy face over ruled them. I pulled him close for a kiss, unable to resist any longer. “I could go around the block if you'll take a bath with me when we get home to warm up.”
“I'd do that even if you want to go back now.”
It was tempting, but Timmy makes so many sacrifices for me every day without complaining that I couldn't bring myself to agree despite the way my nose was beginning to run. “I'm looking forward to that bath, but right now I'm enjoying being out here with you.” Even as I said it I realized it was true. I was cold and by the time we got home I would be more than ready to sink into a nice hot tub, but this had its appeal too. Watching Timmy happy and excited about something is one of my favorite past times and he was certainly enjoying himself.
“All right then. If you're sure.”
I pulled the thermos from my pocket, took a swig and passed it to him. “I'm always sure when it comes to spending time with you.”
Once the thermos was safety back in my pocket I felt Timmy's arm wrap around my shoulders and tug me close. He didn't say a word, but I could feel the tenderness in the touch of his gloves on my face. Knowing that I could give him something that he had wanted for so long warmed me in a way that alcohol and hot water couldn't begin to.