Frosty the Snowman

The winter that Jimmy was eight years old, he built a snowman by himself for the first time. He rolled up the torso, and the head, and the bottom in the backyard, stole a corn cob pipe from his grandfather’s roll-top desk, and even went for a button nose instead of a carrot, telling his mother that was just how the song went. He would hear no ifs, no ands, and no buts.

Each afternoon that winter, he tried a different hat on the snowman: a silk top hat first, of course, and then the sequined red Minnie ears his sister brought home with them from Disney World that summer, and then each of his father’s Patriots and Red Sox championship hats in turn. He never used the Bruins one, but that’s because his father would have killed him, and the Celtics hat had been buried with his Uncle Art, but every other ball cap was fair game. He even gave his mother’s pink do-rag a whirl, the one she’d worn that autumn she and the chemo had beaten the shit out of her breast cancer.

But the thing about Jimmy was that he never waited for the magic to come over good ol’ Frosty. That was the part of the song he’d long since given up on. Magic, Jimmy decided, was something you made yourself. So, as soon as the hat of the day was on top of that cold white head, Jimmy danced his little ass off. Every afternoon, every damned one, fighting off the cold and the dark until all that was left was a patch of wet grass, a couple of pieces of coal, a button, a scarf, and a damp fedora he put on his sweating head as Mom called him in to dinner.

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