After several heated arguments we agree on a wake-up time. The kids suffer a feverish five-minute insomnia. The folks stuff the stockings with novelty boxer shorts and filler oranges and then pass out. I eat the cookies left by the fireplace and write a terse thank-you note in Santa’s florid script. The house is absolutely silent, lit only by the tree. This is the moment which all winter rests upon and this year its weight is reassuring.