The big family gathering was all Ziva could think of as they decorated the tree; the snow outside seemed to have other plans as Vicky took another call with her brother declining their invitation. She struggled to hide her disappointment as their family decided the blizzard conditions forecast were risky. Their coastal home welcomed strong winds; the snow piled high against the house side, she understood why they would rather stay home. Ziva stared into the fire as Vicky added presents, a sinking feeling, like she knew something was to happen, or end. There had been awkward conversations, Vicky had tried hard to dismiss them as Ziva felt that winter brought with it her time. Her wife made plans, cramming into their lives memories and experiences, traditions for future generations. In her older years meant Ziva would miss the key moments of her daughter, sharing her dreams, the teasing as she tried new styles, her first crush, boyfriends, seeing her walk down the aisle, to see the amazing woman their daughter would be. Sitting, Vicky’s shoulders dropped with a sigh, squeezing Ziva’s hand, Winterfest will be perfect, whether it was the three of them and the fur babies or the whole family.
A squeal from the porch startled Vicky and Ziva, who rushed to Asher, his body semi-curled. Milly’s watery sobs, her cold hand brushed over his fur, he had drifted into his permanent nap, with dreams of turkey and catnip. Tugging Milly, Vicky embraced her, comforted as they both sobbed, allowing Ziva one final hug with her fur baby.
Death had no place, however, grief remained; the special present made up for Milly had supposed to bring an element of fun and excitement with sugary treats, a game and pyjamas. Vicky tried; she made the hot chocolates, made them all wear the toasty socks and encouraged Milly to open one present. Ziva watched as the marshmallows and cream melted; it dripped down the side to her trousers. Milly disappeared; she had forgotten to make a card for her mums; she felt Ziva needed this gift. The glitter fluttered, sticky with glue as she handed the chaotic card to Ziva, a Cheshire cat sized grin on her face. It had meant to look like Asher, with all his stripes; Vicky nodded, her brow furrowed, suggesting Milly had caught his energetic personality, as neither she nor Ziva could tell the drawing was a cat.
Despite her grief, Ziva stood tall that morning, it would be the first significant holiday she had held, and memorable it would be. Milly ran to the tree; presents piled high, eager to see inside the pretty boxes. Vicky joined her, arms pulling her into an embrace. She screwed her nose, wriggling free, begging her mums to let her open them all. Ziva appeared, pancakes overflowing; Milly knew maple syrup, bacon and sausages awaited; the smell tugged; as she followed her nose, glancing back toward the presents.
The snow had been lighter than forecast; although they were white across the land, the roads had cleared. They each opened one gift, art supplies for Milly; Vicky hoped it would stop her stealing hers. A homemade necklace for her mums used shells she collected in the Summer; Eliza helped her string them together with beads from the one Milly broke. Ziva smiled, her face soft, tearful, the beads had adorned Aria’s necklace, Milly borrowed without asking, and the clasp broke; this repair was somehow perfect and the best gift of all.