The steam curled up and danced with the old man’s nose hairs while a smile pulled at his lips. Cinnamon and cloves fill the air and mingle with the glittering lights that lined the frosty window. In its reflection he watched as his wife Sally hunched over their wood-block island, rolling out cookie dough with a fervor that better matched a woman sixty years younger. Her white hair was bound to the top of he head into a small bun and secured with two pins, one red, one green. Her wrinkled hands gripped the rolling pin with a steady grip and only the smallest amount of tremor. Sally wore an apron made of red and white argyle, the same apron she’d worn every Christmas for the last fifty years.
Thomas closed his eyes and remembered when he’d bought it for her. A small trinket for her to open Christmas Eve on an especially tough year. They’d lost their third child only a month before, and Sally had given up hope. He feared she’d give up altogether, but when she put on the apron and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies she’d transformed.
He opened his eyes and blinked away the tears that had pooled. He observed Sally cut small circles out of the dough and transfer them to a sheet pan. She caught him staring and smiled, her red lipstick contrasting with her white smile and crystal blue eyes.
“Thomas, come place these in the oven for me, would you? I am running behind for the banquet.” Sally dusted her flour-covered hands on her apron and began to roll out another measure of dough.
Thomas hoisted himself up from his armchair and set his teacup on the side table, “Of course dear.” Sally’s charity banquets were her joy in the holidays. Her small way to give back to their community and help other mothers without children have happy holidays. The Red Apron, Sally’s bakery was the leading donator and employer to women in need in the small city of Westmont. He crossed to the counter and gripped the pan with two shaking hands before as carefully as he could, adding it to the stove and spinning the dial on the timer. After all these years, he knew her recipes by heart just as she did.
“Thank you, love,” Sally said leaning over and kissing his cheek, “I’m almost done here.”
“Take your time sweetie. I still want to finish my tea.” Thomas made his way back to his chair and sunk into it. He cradled his tea to warm his arthritic fingers and returned to watching the frosty night beyond the glass.