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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Hot chocolate comes with a side of grief every winter. Its taste sends me a new flashback with every sip, and all I can do is reminisce hopelessly about what it was like as a child during winter break. I feel nostalgia so intensely that it burns me, a sharp icy hot sting that hits the back of my throat. 

The first time I remember drinking hot chocolate is at five years old. My sister makes it for me while my parents look at her disapprovingly. Too much sugar, they scold. Their comment only increases my excitement, watching impatiently as my sister stirred the powder into the milk. When she hands me my owl mug, steam rising out of it, I blow it away in hopes of it cooling quicker. Overeager, I tip the mug back and burn the tip of my tongue on the drink. I flinch, but once I taste the creamy liquid chocolate, I can’t help but keep gulping it down. It hurts a little and my sister laughs at me, but it is my first taste of winter and I am going to cherish it.

I am not sure how old I am in the next memory. I am rolling around in the snow, breathing in the crisp, freezing air, and refusing to go back inside. We were blessed with a white Christmas this year, the remnants of four inches perfectly acting as a play area. My sisters are beside me, tossing around snowballs and making snow angels. Our parents bribe us with hot chocolate and we run frantically toward the door. There is pushing and shoving, the three of us racing to strip our snow pants off. Once we are sitting at the dining table, our parents hand us three mugs and a bag of marshmallows. I grab a handful and drop it into my mug, seeing the sizzle as it dissolves. The hot cocoa burns my tongue slightly again, but once again, it is worth it.

I am in high school this time. There has not been a white Christmas in a few years. There is slush on the roads today, a gray, ugly muck dirtying up the sidewalk as I walk. The Rochester lights twinkle as I move past them, a messy concoction of reds and greens. There is a cup of coffee in my hands, blown cold by the brisk air, and it tastes bitter and sad. Something is different this year. It does not feel magical somehow. I throw the cup away when it is still half full, and question why I did not order a hot chocolate.

Another failed white Christmas this year. Hot chocolate will not taste the same again.

Tracy Li is in her fourth year at Michigan State University, majoring in Mathematics and Secondary Education. She is a social media assistant for the Michigan State chapter. While her major is not aligned with writing, she has a deep passion for it, particularly in the form of creative writing. In her spare time, she enjoys crocheting, painting, and embroidering.