The first winter I saw snow was the first winter I fell in love. I’ve always adored the holidays, but growing up in Florida meant I never experienced the “White Christmas” dream. After moving to Dallas, I started dating a woman who worked on a Christmas tree lot across the street from my apartment. Marleana would come over, smelling of pine, her arms toned from all the lifting. She was my lesbian Hallmark Christmas film fantasy. She even owned a shiny red truck that we drove in to find snow. Her Christmas gift this year? An engagement ring. — Hannah Melin

In Kolkata, “I love you” is not said often, and certainly not to parents. It is considered over the top; translated into Bengali, it can sound mawkish. I improvise when I call my parents in India from my apartment in New York. “I wish I had your tenacity,” I tell my mother. I praise my father’s compassion. “Wish you were here” is the furthest I venture. Yesterday, when my mother said that she longed to see me and her voice faltered, I blurted out those three words. The heart grows fonder when parents are old and away, but a pandemic makes it bolder. — Satarupa Ghosh Roy


I walked into the cramped East Village candle store. The man behind the counter asked what I needed. “I heard that you … help people,” I said. He rubbed his hands together like he was about to make his favorite meal. “I need to get over someone,” I said. He nodded and retrieved a black candle from a shelf: “I need your initials and his.” I watched as he carved my heartbreak into the wax. “Burn this for seven days. You’ll feel better.” On day seven, I met someone new. It was a brief, healing romance. I never looked back. — Felice Neals

“Who is that woman?” my father asks me, pointing to a framed photo on the wall. “She’s so beautiful it makes me cry.” The woman in the photo is my mother, Rosemary. They were married for 56 years before she passed away. They slept in the same bed until the end, holding hands every night as they drifted off to sleep. My father has Alzheimer’s. Some days he doesn’t know who she is; others he speaks as if she’s in the room, calling out over his shoulder, “Rose — ” as if memory is music only he can hear. — Amy Massingale