I don’t know why I’m always warmer in Dad’s coat. Maybe it’s just a warm coat, or maybe it’s being embraced by the scent of his scentless soap.
Every Christmas Eve of my childhood my parents dragged me and Will (my saintly big brother who once conned me out of $10) to our slowly declining Episcopal church for the 11 p.m. service. I would wear a poofy dress that mimicked the costume of a Disney princess I’d never idolize, along with sparkly red dress shoes that I clicked together when I wished to go home. Will would sport a pint-sized navy jacket with gold buttons and a shimmery red clip-on tie that clashed with his stupid orange hair.
Will would always make an effort to stay awake and revel in the birth of Christ. Not me. I knew Santa was waiting for me to fall asleep, and the tone-deaf choir’s rendition of “Silent Night” was not worth staying up for. It wouldn’t be long before I was slumped over my Daddy’s shoulder, stroking his Homer Simpson Christmas tie with my four-year-old fingers.
Daddy would pick me up and wrap me in his snazzy black velvet jacket (he only wears it on Christmas Eve, that’s how snazzy it is) and lay me back down in the scuffed maple pew, where my nose would disappear into the silk lining. I would sleep with my head cradled on Daddy’s lap, only my eyelashes peeking through his coat, until the choir burst into “Joy to the World.”
Even now, when I’m supposed to hate my father with a door-slamming passion, I can’t help but find warmth inside his coat. Once my arm slides into the way-too-big sleeve, the shivers instantly cease and the goosebumps recede back into my pale, freckled skin.
I’m never cold in Dad’s coat.
I’m afraid college will be frigid without it.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.