As a single person without family, I found the Christmas season depressing. Spending it in Las Vegas this year seemed like the perfect solution, no snow, incessant Christmas music, or bell-ringing Santas. I sighed in relief as I stepped out of the terminal into brilliant sunshine.
However, as I walked down the strip, I realized that even here there was no escape. Holiday displays decorated every hotel. One had an animated scene with a jolly Santa filling stockings while his reindeer pranced nearby, another a depiction of the Twelve Days of Christmas, including a singing partridge, and lords a leaping. Even outside street performers dressed as Dickens characters sang, while a man yelled humbug.
I sank down on a bus stop bench, put my head in my hands, and quietly sobbed. Memories I kept at bay most of the year overwhelmed me, Christmas the year Dani turned four, how her eyes sparkled when we lit the tree and how she grinned when Joe lifted her up to place the star on top. She’d laughed when Joe grabbed a handful of tinsel and threw it. Later he’d kissed me under the mistletoe. Now she and Joe were gone and I had nothing left but painful memories.
I felt a small hand pat my knee. “Don’t be sad,” said a curly-headed boy, not more than three or four.
A good-looking man rushed over and scooped up the child. “Joshua, you scared me.” He looked at me. “I know you. I’ve seen you in Starbucks.”
“And you sit in the corner with the batman logo laptop.”
“She’s sad, Dad, she needs chocolate. Dad says chocolate makes everything better.”
For the first time in months, I laughed. “Your father is a very wise man.”
Joshua’s father held out his hand. “Join us.”