I know I’ve made her feel safe again, if only for a short while.
The Edinburgh Christmas market is one of the most beautiful holiday markets in the world. Kayla and I had been by a few times during the day, but we were usually on our way to and from somewhere. At night it’s a completely different experience.
Picture this: the long straight line of Princes Street completely lit up in white, gold, green, and red. The towering shops with their twinkling and elaborate Christmas displays are on one side, while the Princes Street Gardens on the other are filled with market stalls, glittering rides such as the Christmas tree slide, the double carousel, the Star Flyer, the Big Wheel, and even Santa’s train. People are everywhere, bundled up, laughing—kids are running around, and it all smells of caramel corn, mulled wine, and pine needles. Christmas songs and carollers in all directions bring in the surround sound.
It’s pure Christmas bliss, if you’re into that kind of thing, and I think it’s exactly what Kayla needs to get into the spirit, to put a smile on her face.
“Oh my god,” Kayla says as we turn the corner and the whole sparkling world lights up before us. She’s so wide-eyed, like a little kid, that I can’t help but grin at her, squeezing her tight to me. “This looks so amazing!”
“I thought it might cheer you up,” I tell her. “It’s impossible to be in a bad mood here.”
“Yeah,” she says, looking around her at the crowds wandering to and fro. “Even though people are like my least favorite thing, at least here everyone looks happy.”
I’m not big on crowds or people either—probably one of the many reasons why the two of us work so well together—but here it just adds to the flavor of things. It’s amazing what you’re willing to forgive at this time of year.
Kayla wants to go on the Big Wheel, so we head on down to it.
“I thought you were afraid of heights,” I say, craning my neck back to look at the giant Ferris wheel with the enclosed pods. Shadows of people lean against them, staring at what must be an astounding view.
“I am,” she admits. “But I think this whole embracing your fears thing is rubbing off on me.”
But when we get near the line we hear the wait is at least an hour. So we stroll over to the market stalls instead. We both get cups of steaming hot mulled wine. I get the non-alcoholic version and so does Kayla. I’ve told her a few times that just because I don’t drink anymore doesn’t mean she has to, but she always dismisses it. Her support in just the most subtle of ways undoes me sometimes.
“Hey, help me pick out something for your family,” she says, taking my hand and pulling me toward some of the vendors.
I look over everything, most things geared toward Christmas, tapping my fingers against my lips. “Jessica and Donald are both easy and hard to shop for,” I tell her. “I know that doesn’t bloody help much, but it’s true. They have everything they could want, but what they always love is something personal. Something that made you think of them, that you could see in their house.”
“That helps,” she says, looking at me hopefully. “Want to go in on a present with me?”
I smile at her. “Of course I do. But you’re picking it out.”
She gives me an exaggerated pout before turning her attention back to the rows of goods. “Fine. But if you think they’ll hate it, you have to tell me.”
It’s funny watching Kayla as she tries to find just the right gift. She goes from stall to stall, asking the vendors questions, examining every item like she’s an appraiser at an auction. Finally she settles on a plastic box of delicate glass Christmas ornaments that look about a hundred years old.