The woods are dry, warmer than the frigid days of all the previous week. No fog, no magic. Gray sky, melting ice, an unusually drab morning, and I’m dragging a bit. Yet, I have a party to put on. Where is my energy, my spark? It’s no fun to give a party without a spark of energy. I am summoning just enough. It was my choice to host it early, a brunch. My brother arrives to help; my daughter too. The kitchen grows chaotic with chopping and frying and baking, the dogs under foot, not just my dogs, but the guest dogs too. I snap at Charlie and everyone feels bad for him. Guests begin to arrive, my aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, the house is full of loud and happy, cheerful, loving greetings and bags of treats and children too, and I can’t find my spark, what’s wrong with me, I’m tired and there’s still so much to do and so much noise, and the Christmas music on top of it all. . . I push my way out of the packed kitchen into the empty dining room. It’s time to light the candles, because, only for a winter party, the candles can be lit at noon. I strike the match and watch the wick, the tiny, whipping flame, and the light comes into me, inside me now, and I move around the still room, lighting all the quiet candles and this is what I needed on this wintry morning. I return to the kitchen crowded with loved ones, large and small and loud and tightly packed, and everyone who is meant to be at this party is arriving, even the dogs. And me. I am here, now, too.