Christmas is her favourite time of year.
It’s a holiday filled with nothing but food, presents, joy, laughter, and most importantly, love. But as much fun as the day is itself, it’s the build up which gets everyone excited. For most, this countdown begins on December 1st, the day where everyone gets an advent calendar.
When Maria woke up this December 1st, instead of seeing her boyfriend laying beside her as usual, she was greeted by an advent calendar and a post-it note that read, ‘You know what to do. One window per day x‘.
Like lightning, she ripped open the first window and to her surprise, she didn’t find a piece of chocolate inside, but a small picture of herself and Joe from when they attended college together. A chuckle left her lips as the strangely dressed young pair of teenagers grin back at her, ‘God, that red hair was wrong’.
And without fail, every morning Maria would open a window before doing anything else, and each surprise behind the cardboard left her smiling for the rest of the day.
2nd December: A picture of a pizza. Their first date.
3rd December: A little tube of coconut lip balm. Their first kiss.
4th December: His promise ring. Defining their relationship status.
Maria fiddles the old ring between her fingers fondly, and like she did in school, she puts the ring on a necklace chain and lets it hang against her chest.
5th December: A picture of their mates. Introducing each other to their friends.
6th December: A picture of a toothbrush. Their first sleepover.
7th December: The words ‘More than Words’. Their song.
8th December: A picture of their parents. First time meeting the parents.
9th December: Three red rose petals. First time they exchanged, ‘I love you’.
10th December: A £20 note. Their first argument.
11th December: A picture of a bed. The first time they slept together.
12th December: A miniature plastic mistletoe. Their first Christmas.
13th December: One piece of Lindor chocolate. One-year anniversary.
14th December: A picture of the Eiffel Tower. Their first holiday together.
15th December: A picture of them in matching navy blue cap and gown. Graduation.
16th December: A picture of a doormat that reads, ‘Welcome’. Their first place together.
17th December: A small roll of Monopoly money. Financial woes.
18th December: An old theme park ticket. Two-year anniversary.
19th December: A picture of a sonogram. Their baby’s ultrasound.
With the pad of her thumb, Maria gently strokes the image, careful not to smudge the black ink. She brings the sonogram up to her lips and kisses it, a tear slowly rolls down her cheek. The picture is placed securely in her purse, and every now-and-then for the remainder of the day, Maria would glance at it with a heavy heart.
20th December: Two £50 notes. Their job promotions.
21st December: A picture of a steering wheel. The miscarriage.
22nd December: A hot chocolate sachet. Comforting each other.
23rd December: A picture of them with a panic basket. Three-year anniversary.
24th December: A picture of them dishevelled and covered in cookie dough. Last Christmas.
With a very shaky hand, Maria tentatively peels open the very last paper window. A choked cry escapes her mouth and tears start flowing. She brings her hand up to her mouth in shock. Her present is cushioned in bright red velvet, and shimmers in the light. There’s no mistaken what it is.
Joe grins from his position on the bedroom floor, a Santa hat is perched crookedly on the top of his head. One of his hands is resting on his bended knee and the other tightly grasping Maria’s free hand.
“Will you marry me?”
25th December: A diamond ring.
Without a doubt, Christmas is her favourite time of year.
You can read the sequel to this story through this link: Christmas Tree.