Ken peered through the kitchen window when the first watery flakes drifted down from the sky.
"It's snowing!" Kurumi said excitedly, placing her hand on his shoulder as she leaned forward to get a better look. "Maybe we'll have a white Christmas?"
Ken held his own hands under the running stream of water from the tap, scrubbing them clean, before wiping them dry on his butcher's apron. "It might not settle."
The snow was melting into tiny puddles in the Koneko's back yard. Nothing like the blizzards and ice up north that they'd seen on the news.
"Spoilsport," Kurumi scolded.
With his limited English, the cooking instructions weren't making much sense.
"Why would they put a bag inside it?"
"It's for the gravy," Kurumi explained, pushing her hair behind her ears. "You stew the giblets with seasoning then sieve them out. Some people give them to their cats."
"We haven't got a cat," Ken reminded her, making a face as he shoved his hand inside the bird. He had seen intestines and organs before but pulling the neck out of a turkey was gross even by his standards.
Kurumi reminded him pertly to check both ends.
The shop doorbell pinged regularly throughout the afternoon and a succession of cars pulled up outside. Snow soon turned into slush.
Kurumi was in charge of peeling sprouts and roast chestnuts, a job she could do sitting down. Ken had his back to her while he mixed stuffing and tried to work out from the recipe where the sausages and bacon came in. She made them both tea.
"That man was here again this morning." Kurumi replaced the kettle on its plate, sounding puzzled. "The one Aya doesn't like."
Ken glanced meaningfully over his shoulder.
"The American one," Kurumi giggled.
"Oh him," Ken said, after a moment's silence. He put the mixing bowl down. "I don't like him much either. What did he want?"
"Yuki said he left us a present, and a card." Kurumi leaned back in her chair, resting one hand on the bump which was now very noticable beneath her outsized West Ham teeshirt. "Was that nice of him? I'm not sure. He always gives me such strange looks. Chloe thinks we should take everything to hospital for an xray."
"Bloody hell," Ken muttered, before remembering that he wasn't supposed to swear in front of the baby.
It was dark outside now, saving the pale yellow light that spilled from the house. The snow was sweeping downwards in luminous swirls and the grass and the walls and the window ledge were all thickly coated in sparkling white. Ken opened the back door, letting chilly air into the kitchen while he listened to the soft, smothered sound outside.
Michel had put glitter in Kurumi's hair when the shop finally closed, and made her little earrings from tinsel. Pink was never her colour but Ken couldn't help liking her best in his faded old trackpants and the silly decorations.
A sudden burst of noise from the front of the house proclaimed that the others were home.
Ken closed the door behind him, turning in time to see Ran duck into the kitchen, dressed like a yeti and brushing droplets of fast melting snow from his hair. Aya-chan was still in the hall, wrestling Mei Mei out of her coat and mittens while Shige and Keigo gleefully stomped snow across the floor tiles. Kaoru toddled sturdily behind them. It was their first family Christmas.
"You've hardly started," Ran pointed out, surveying the array of food and utensils on the table.
Memories were like a mote of dust in the eye. Ken blinked to clear them.