Karl-Anthony Towns gazed forlornly out of his window onto the Minneapolis streetscape below him. Autumn had been going on for what seemed like forever but the trees were all still fully clad with leaves. How much longer could it possibly go on? When would winter finally caress the lands of Minnesota with its snowy touch? The whole point of being stuck in a remote Midwestern outpost like the Twin Cities was to enjoy winter weather for as much of the year as possible. And for Karl-Anthony, the months of October through April were supposed to be snowy. Full stop. Autumn was just an intolerable period of boredom between the freedom of summer and the sublime joy of winter.
The scene outside was so depressing that Karl-Anthony almost ripped the floppy Santa hat right off his own head. However, he knew that if he were to take off the iconic symbol of Christmastime, winter’s arrival in Minnesota could possibly be delayed, so he ignored his frustration and left the hat on.
To help ease the pain of his predicament, Karl-Anthony got out his phone and dialed the number of an ex-teammate of his. They exchanged text messages regularly despite playing on different teams, but Karl-Anthony wanted to hear his voice again.
“Hey Karl,” said the voice on the other end when the call was picked up.
“Hey Ricky,” replied Karl-Anthony. “When’s winter going to get here so it can start snowing again?”
Ricky Rubio chuckled. “I’m in Phoenix now, so for us, it’s never.”
Karl-Anthony’s eyes grew wide. “WHAT? You went somewhere that doesn’t get snow? If anybody tried to trade me to Phoenix or Orlando I would threaten not to report to the team.”
“You’re not going to believe me,” Ricky said. “But I signed here as a free agent. It was my choice.”
Ricky was right. Karl-Anthony couldn’t believe it. How anybody could willingly sign in a city that never received even a single flake of snow was incomprehensible to him. He figured that Ricky’s upbringing in Spain had not endowed him with the same love of winter that Karl-Anthony had developed while growing up in New Jersey. “But…but when will you drink hot chocolate?”
“Only on away games to cold places,” Ricky answered. “I’m sure you’ll drink more than enough hot chocolate for the both of us, though.”
“Not if winter never gets here,” said Karl-Anthony. “I just want to go to sleep and not wake up until it’s December and there’s a foot of snow on the ground to play in.”
“Winter might get there sooner than you think,” said Ricky.
“At this rate it’ll never get here,” Karl-Anthony said sadly. “I’ll never get to go sledding down the big hill or go ice skating on the pond ever again.”
“If you open your front door, you might find something that will help winter arrive just a little bit faster.”
Karl-Anthony was confused by this. Had Ricky sent him a package? How could he know that the package had already been delivered? And what could possibly be in a package that would help bring winter to the dismal Minnesota autumn? Still holding the phone to his ear, he walked to to the front door of his apartment and opened it.
Ricky was standing there, a big smile on his scruffily-bearded face. A navy-blue knit hat with ear flaps and a pattern of snowflakes was on his head. In his arms was a box containing many things, including what appeared to be a pair of winter boots and a Snuggie with Santa Clauses all over it.
“Ricky!” Karl-Anthony squealed, rushing to hug his friend even with the box of stuff in the way. “How…why…?”
“I know you too well, man,” said Ricky as he was enveloped by the larger man’s hug. “I knew you would be getting antsy for winter right about now, so I brought you a care package full of your favorite wintertime accessories.”
Karl-Anthony released his hug and took the box from Ricky to bring it into the apartment. Setting it down on the dining room table, he started pulling things out of it, exclaiming in wonder at each one. “Wow! Hot chocolate mix variety pack! Oh my god! Reindeer mittens! Neat! A ‘cozy fireplace’ DVD with twenty different fireplaces!” Finally, he had exhausted the box of gifts. “It’s like a pre-Christmas Christmas! You’re the best, Ricky!”
“I’ve got one more thing for you,” Ricky said, going back into the hallway of the apartment building to retrieve something he had left there. Karl-Anthony was almost bursting with excitement as he awaited Ricky’s return.
“Close your eyes,” Ricky said, and Karl-Anthony obeyed. It seemed like he had his eyes closed for several minutes before Ricky said, “Okay, you can look again.”
Karl-Anthony opened his eyes and couldn’t believe what he saw. His whole apartment was filled with piles of snow. A snow machine had been plugged in and was spewing the white powder all across the floor and furniture. He ran over to Ricky and hugged him again as the snow fell around them. “Winter’s finally here, and I’m spending it with my favorite person in the whole world!”