She woke up deliciously warm. She blinked sleepily and held the comforter up to her chin. Soft as a cloud and warm as a bakery at mid morning and twice as cozy, she adored her bed. She’d picked out the delicate violet duvet cover and the soft cream flannel sheets. Rolling over she looked at the narrow window and smiled at the pale rose curtains she’d made herself. She hugged her teddy bear as she gave thanks for another day where she wouldn’t worry about if she would eat, or if she would get too cold, or if… There were too many ifs to list. So many things she did not take for granted, not for one minute. Long sleeved floral pajamas. Slippers to keep her feet warm as she slipped out of bed.
The sun was up and warming the clouds, making the snow piled outside look like a glittering down blanket. Her breath fogged up the window and she drew a star in it. Gliding over to the door, she cracked it open and took a deep breath. The morning smelled of cinnamon rolls, citrus, and pine. She slipped down the stairs and perched on her usual stool.
Her guardian looked over from icing the cinnamon rolls and smiled at her. “You can open your stocking if you like.”
She glanced over at the pretty tree, with its white sparkling lights and elegant decorations, a couple brightly wrapped boxes underneath. Then over at the fireplace where two stockings hung, both pleasingly full. She smiled and shook her head. “I’ll wait for you.” Sitting very politely she watched the progress of icing swirling over cinnamon rolls.
Something festive and orchestral played softly from the hidden speakers. This was only their second Christmas, and it was far more deliberate than that first holiday when she’d snuck in a pint sized tree. He’d blinked, asked her if she wanted to celebrate, and then gone out and bought garland and holly and stockings and candles. The tree was bigger this year, the garland fresh, and all of the uncertainty was banished.
Cinnamon rolls frosted, kitchen tidied, he turned back toward her and smiled. “They need to rest for five minutes.”
The grin took over her face like sunrise and drew some matching warmth out of him. She took down his stocking and he took down hers, and they exchanged. He sat down in his arm chair and she sat on the floor next to the coffee table. He’d gifted her two bottles of good ink, hair ribbons in a cascade of pastel shades, a new pair of sewing scissors, some candies, and a tea cozy shaped like a cat. She’d given him a set of gourmet sea salts, an oven thermometer, a fine ball point pen, an orange, and several smaller exotic fruits. Finally, she gave him a hug. For the first time, she knew they would both be warm that year. And possibly the next year. It was a good thing to count on.