"Yup. Bony bear."
She leapt from the bed. So much for the dodgy knee.
"Finally! Let me see. Anyway you have to say itoutside, come on!"
"Bony bear, you have to say it outside in the snowlike Fleischman and Maggie and all the others did, youknow that. Come on ..... Yes, at last! BONY BEAR!"
We stood on the balcony, it wasn't quite light yet. Andrea in pyjamas, eyes full of sleep. I watched asshe did her little victory dance, NFL style. Likeevery year.
"Bony bear, Bony bear, Bonne eee-bear, Bonne hiver!"
Winter's first snow; cause for celebration, of sorts. Just like every year, it's our tradition.
"Those accents were the worst ever. Why were theyanyway trying to speak French? I mean, NorthernExposure was set in Alaska, no?" She knew my answer:
"You always ask that. I have no idea." She has apoint, though.
"Thank you for keeping this tradition, especially ... I understand that you don't want to celebratethis year, that it's too early. But, well, it's myfavourite time, Advent and ... Chri ... you know."
"I'd noticed. And it's okay to say the word, it's notgoing to change anything. Christmas isn't goingaway."
"But you still don't mind us putting up decorations,do you? Just maybe some fairy lights out here on thebalcony? It's okay that you don't sign the Christmascards. I can understand that. Can you check formail? Why haven't I got any cards yet? BONY BEAR! Isaw a light, do you think I woke the neighbours? Shall we go to the Eck Haus this evening and havegoose and dumplings, like we do every year? I know,but we're not even giving each other presents thisyear, it could be our treat. It's what she'd want. She'd want us to be happy. I know that's what she'dwant."
My head fell and the tears plunged into the snow.
"Hey. You miss her, don't you? I know, I miss hertoo. We all do. Nobody ever thought we'd be havingChristmas without her. It's not easy. It must behorrible for your father, there alone."Sobbing now, on her shoulder, tears and snot and snow.
She stroked my hair and whispered low, "But still. Bony bear."