Before the word snowflake became frozen in insult territory, compounded by the (shit)storms of 2017 and the year preceding, it was simply a word that, in my opinion, perfectly captured the wondrous, fleeting, festive time between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year—my favorite holidays of the year. There’s something about this time, it has that special chiaroscuro. Dark and light intensify to a high contrast, heightening every joyous emotion as starkly as a lone flame on a sill.

Snowflake. When wistful, melancholy Autumn makes its decisive turn towards darkness, sliding swiftly and surely down that steep, ice-slicked path to appendage-numbing, bitter cold. Berlin winters are known to be especially brutal. Yet, in the beginning, it’s not unwelcome.

That first hit of ice in the air is potent. A refreshing whiff of minty juniper—smelling salts for the bored, the weary. Breaths instantly form clouds, wrapping hurried outdoor conversations in a veil of new romance. Trees bare their souls. They reveal themselves to be splendid forms worthy of adoration. Appreciatively, many are adorned with twinkling lights. Gloves, coats, woolen socks, still fresh, dry and stiff, still manage to hold in the warmth of rosy cheeks and tingly skin. These are all a delightful novelty. Winter delights.


At first, a thin lattice forms. New sensations, as thin as a web of frost on a window pane, spreading out in all directions, quickly reinforced by threads of nostalgia. There are so many classics to go back to, Christmas songs, old movies to enjoy, family traditions to cherish, to remember, to continue. A warm bowl of popcorn, a hot mug of cider or cocoa, a plate of frosted cookies studded with tasty tidbits. Less is not more. Stinginess is for Scrooges. Decadent parties and elaborate feasts beckon, merry choruses and spirited revelers abound.

Let’s bring in an entire tree, drape branches in every room, fill our homes with things that glitter and glow, that light up at night. Darkness etches everything into fullness. The tiny light of a distant star finally reaches us to foretell the future.

Children sleep to fanciful tales of flying reindeer and a jolly saint who brings them all presents, in one chimney swoop, all at once. Dreams hover and float. Joy clings to this gossamer of tinsel, hanging on the tip of an evergreen. As whole and perfect as the word made flesh.

By the turn of the year, all this will dissolve, as swiftly and surely as a sugar wafer, so beautifully, so intricately iced.


Text and images by M.P. Baecker

9 thoughts on “Snowflake

  1. I’ve come to realize I like winter delights on a mountain only.
    I went out today, was in a hurry, dashed out of the apartment with no gloves, no cap, with a wrong coat, besides thinking I didn’t need woolen socks. The end result: I literally froze to death, I’m still defrosting hours later. So, no, thanks. No winter delights for me.
    Looking forward to spring already.
    BTW, I AM happy for you.

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  2. Such beautiful visual and mental imagery, MP! And you interweave it with seasonal myths and stories in such a satisfying way. I honestly never understood the ridiculous insult of “snowflake.” Each is unique, beautiful, and inspiring, and – together with others like them – they change the very landscape they touch! Bravo!

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    • Thank you!

      You are right, “snowflake” is a ridiculous insult! In threads where there is a lot of trolling, it used to strike me as a mockery of the easily-offended pc fragility, idealism and elitism of liberals, but it’s also been thrown right back to describe the privileged fragility and arrogant entitlement of nationalists and the alt-right. A snow-ball fight of epic proportions! It’s time to take back that word!

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