two little footprints mark a trail along the kitchen counter. at the corner they jump down to the floor and down the hall to the door to the den, where their little bare feet stand on a chair. a little hand stretches up and dangles a mistletoe sprig. “john,” says a little voice, “i need some help in the kitchen,” the other little hand stifles a giggle. “hey johhhn, can you and jane come help me?” another restrained giggle. no reply. “john?” the little hand retracts, replaced in the doorframe by two blinking eyes. on the tv, a deep-voiced man dances with a younger woman. she has red devil horns atop her short black hair. the camera cuts to another woman watching the dancers, nervous. and on the couch, there’s john, with his girlfriend, not watching the movie at all, not listening to his little sister who drops the obsolete mistletoe and runs to the living room yelling “mom! mom!” and there’s mom lighting glassybaby on the mantle above. *click* says the lighter; *click* a crimson flicker, a snowy glow. newly-hung stockings dangle below. “yes?” mom asks, smiles. “oh, actually, nothing. those candles look really pretty,” and the little feet tiptoe back to the den, eyes watching the floor, to replace the mistletoe over the kitchen door.