December 7, 2014

YOUNG | A Taste of Christmas

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By ELIZABETH YOUNG

“Oh, I love ice cream!”

“Me too! What’s your favorite flavor?”

“Peppermint.”

For some reason, I always get a slightly bemused look whenever I have this conversation with other people. They seem to expect a more normal flavor like chocolate chip cookie dough (boring) or Rocky Road (I’m not a fan of chocolate ice cream). Peppermint’s not a flavor normally reserved for post-dinner garlic-breath salvation.

But my minty preference runs in the family, and it stems from one of my thankfully few non-white Christmases. When I was 10, my family and I traveled to California to spend the holidays with my relatives, and while that holiday-celebration feeling was in the air due to the sheer number of extended family members and friends, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something felt off. Maybe it was the lack of snow. Maybe it was seeing everyone walking around without jackets or mittens. Maybe it was that Christmas morning when I walked out of Mass, I saw the still-green trees and bright blue sky and turned to ask my parents, “Wait, is it Christmas or Easter?”

Later that evening, when we had just finished dinner and my sweet tooth was nagging me, my grandmother’s face lit up as she offered us some ice cream.

“Have you ever had peppermint before?” she asked.

My mother and sister quickly said their no-thank-yous while my dad got up to grab the bowls and spoons from the cabinets. As my grandmother pulled out a bright, bubblegum-pink tub from the freezer, I wrinkled my nose. I hated pink.

But when that first bowl was placed in front of me, the white clouds of cream streaked by dashes of pink and green and dotted by bits of crushed peppermint, my mouth watered. And when I took that first bite, the bright, sweet mintiness burst and lingered in my mouth, just like that first gentle snowfall that clings to the ground.

It tasted like winter. And it tasted like a white Christmas.

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