Christmas smells of ginger and pine, and looks like candlelight through a window.

We had the same dinner every Chrstmas Eve; cabbage and potatoes, fried smelt, scallops, salmon, boiled onions. Before we ate we each got a wafer Grandma got from the Church, and broke a piece from everyone else's around the table, giving each other little kisses as we ate the exchanged bits. We listened to Christmas carols in New York City on the radio.

One year, everyone fell asleep in midnight mass except for me. Dad, who almost never came to church anymore, had been bored from the outset. Peter lost interest after he made faces at the alter boys as they past, and Charlie when he Mr. Wiley sat down, blocking his view of Christine Petersen. I realized I was the only one awake when I heard Dad snore once, and looked at Peter to laugh. And then I noticed my family were all as oblivious as Dad. They woke up eventually, of coure, and we crowded ito the car , shivering, to drive home, carols playing tinny on the radio.

Christmas Day was at Jane's house, after we rifled through the oranges and toys and mittens in our stockings at home. Every year Aunt Mary made me a dress, usually; me and Jane got the same one in a different color. Peter always brought his new toys along, and fought with his cousins over who got to play with them. This year Jane and I were in charge of the gingerbread men. We decorarted them with care, each one a citizen of a magical gingerbread village, and watched them puff up and darken, underfoot in the kitchen. We burned the edges.

"Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow"