December 24. On Christmas Eve the Evanses hang ornaments on their clothesline and Miranda is excited to give her family the presents she has hidden away. They hear singing, and go outside to see that a group of neighbors has gathered in the street to carol. They haven’t seen these people in months. And though it is a special moment of hopefulness and community, Miranda doesn’t expect to see them again soon—everyone is too focused on surviving to socialize.
Miranda finds great comfort in this moment of community. It is such a relief to know that they are not alone—since the last time they gathered as a neighborhood was for the asteroid’s collision. Despite this, she knows promises to see each other again are false. No one wants to reveal the contents of their pantries or woodpiles.
December 25. Despite all the hardships, Miranda records that this is “the best Christmas ever.” They feast on broth, pasta, canned clams, and string beans, with Jell-O for dessert. And Miranda isn’t the only one with surprise presents. She receives a new diary and a watch. She is delighted about both of these gifts—even more so when she realizes the watch had been Mrs. Nesbitt’s. One of Laura’s presents is a photo of her as a child sitting in the sunroom with her parents. Miranda compares this meager Christmas with the lavish one after her parents’ divorce, and despite the paltry gifts, she decides that this one was better.
Like a moralistic classic Christmas story, the lesson Miranda learns from their holiday without proper food, decorations, or presents is that it’s better to spend the time celebrating with those you love than to receive an excess of expensive gifts.
December 27-31. The Evanses keep busy with their homeschooling, playing Scrabble, and holding sing-alongs. They hang up the paintings Mrs. Nesbitt left them and some of Matt’s sketches. Miranda reflects on the year that’s ending with gratitude. While she doesn’t know if there’s a future, she’s grateful for her family and the moments she’s gotten to share with them. She makes a New Year’s resolution to appreciate every moment she has left.
Miranda’s resolution reflects her growing awareness that her remaining time may be finite. Though she can appreciate how much they’ve overcome and how long they’ve survived, she knows that unless things change, they won’t last in a holding pattern without new supplies. Instead, she’ll focus on the now.
January 1. Matt’s New Year’s resolution is for him, Miranda, and Jonny to become proficient on the cross country skis. They try and all tire out very quickly, but the prospect of building endurance and being able to travel to Miller’s Pond and skate cheers Miranda.
While they all know that the true purpose behind learning to ski is that the last survivor would have a means of escape, Miranda is able to pretend this isn’t so and focus on the pond.
January 3-7. Miranda, Jonny, and Matt practice on the skis. This skill feels even more important after their neighbor, Mr. Mortensen, shows up unexpectedly begging for medicine because his wife is very sick. Laura reluctantly shares aspirin, but all of the Evanses are worried and Miranda feels reluctant to let her mom out of her sight, even to go ski. They know that if anyone gets sick, the skis are their only means of getting to the hospital, and they all watch each other cautiously for signs of illness. When it snows again, skiing becomes harder and Miranda’s spirits sink. She worries they won’t make it and wishes for the optimism of Christmas.
Knowing how catastrophic illness could be in their weakened state, without access to health care or proper nutrition, the characters all feel enormous anxiety. For Miranda this manifests as both knowing she needs to improve on skis and not wanting to let Laura out of her sight. These goals are at odds with each other, however, making her even more anxious when performing either task.