“Mommy!” Zelda called. “The Iceman is here!”
Already? Drat! They’d barely started up the ritual. It would be another half hour before they were ready for him.
“Garrit!” I yelled to the kitchen. “Get the drinks ready! We need to buy some time.” Before I even finished the order, the familiar thump-thump-thump came on the cabin door. I ran to open it. A biting breeze poured in from outside, far out of sync with the season.
There the Iceman stood, wrapped in his wool and furs, looking no different than he had every year of my life since I was a child. His face was barely visible beneath all the layers he wore. As always, though, he wore a giant grin that showed snow-white teeth.
“Oh, Iceman,” I said. “We welcome you to our house. Please enter and share drink with us. The rites are in the making and will be prepared soon.” The man nodded and walked in, never speaking a word. He accepted the mug of steaming chocolate from Garrit, though the steam dissipated shortly once his hand grasped it.
“Please, children, speak your wishes to the Iceman while I check on the basement.” Zelda and Garrit ran excitedly up to the Iceman, who towered over them, still beaming.
I ran to the basement, where the murmuring voices of my husband and sister were chanting blessings over the holly and fir branches that decorated the walls. I wasn’t as practiced at this part, but I could help speed it along.