A warm, comforting smell slips through my bedroom door. I freeze for a second as I let the aroma fill my room. Savory, garlicky tones playfully nip my nose as I discover hints of sweet onion, fresh leafy greens, and a slightly salty, heavy scent that is distinctly bovine. I get up from my desk chair and like a cartoon character, float down the stairs to the dining room. “Dinner’s ready!” my mom yells out. My brother hops down the stairs as my dad saunters leisurely to his seat. I glance at the table and see it lined with plates, Tupperware, and bowls filled with noodles, an assortment of vegetables, a sea of seafood, and thinly sliced rib eye beef. In the middle sits a large, heated stainless steel hot pot, the tantalizing source of my hunger. The anticipation kills me as I ache to stand up and dump just about every single delectable piece on the table into the pot. But patience grabs a hold of me and stops me in my proverbial tracks. Composed, I look outside and reveal a faint smile. It’s a white Christmas dinner.
My mom takes the lid off the pot, and stirs the soup around. The steam immediately escapes and fogs up my glasses. “The beef is ready!” my mom exclaims. I look around and see my brother and dad’s eyes widen in anticipation. Peering into the hot pot, the assortment of meats and vegetables look like buoys in a light-gold sea. Little noodle piles sit along the sides of the curved pot, as a forest of mushrooms poke out through the spinach canopy. I grab my sauce dish and drown it in soy sauce, topping it off with Sriracha sauce, cilantro, and sesame oil. As I whisk the mixture together with my chopsticks, my brother picks up his bowl and nabs the closest piece of beef. I dig around with my chopsticks and extract a pile of spinach: my first target. My dog, Sophie, exhales loudly and begins licking my foot. I ignore her and pour my soy sauce concoction over the leafy greens. Before I even think about stuffing my face, my dad raises his wine glass and says, “Merry Christmas.” We all raise our glasses in cheers.
A sudden rush of warmth fills the chilly room, and laughs are passed around. An animated slideshow shimmers over the hot pot as my brother discusses his classes and colleges he wants to attend. I see him meander along with friends to class. He’s going to be a little late, but that’s just how he is. My college aged brother tells a joke and the imaginary group roars in laughter. My father comments, “you’ll get there if you work hard.”
The images fade and The Poly office slowly takes their place. Staff members appear at their chairs, talking, laughing, and working. One Poly person runs uncoordinated to the back office and asks if I’ve finished my article yet. I annoyingly answer “no” and watch him walk out and yell at someone named Joffrey Toesandall. I’m quickly (debatable) typing an article next to my girlfriend, as she works on organic chemistry. My last sentence done, I lean back and smile. Visions of The Poly office fade away and I see my bowl filled with steaming hot pot soup. The warming, comforting smell soothes me. Oh man, I love Christmas.