Workers have the porch roof held up with 2x4s. In their black overalls and crimson hoods they resemble large elves. It’s December; the carpenter and his assistants hammer and saw, while already many of the other houses are adorned with strings of lights-some framing windows, others festooning entire homes, still others haphazardly frosting front-yard shrubs. In the blooming darkness, brilliance flashes. Someone sings, Oh come let us adore him…. Cold sashays through the car, blackens the asphalt, and I clutch the wheel tighter. Any of these doorways might be mine, but none are: not the one where a boy has eaten only the heads of 27 chocolate Santas, leaving their carcasses wrapped in foil body bags; not the one where a man weeps at the dining room table; not the one where a woman removes pieces of gingerbread from the oven to begin constructing a house-gumdrops and sugary mortar ready. The sweet scent steams the windows, fills the rooms with promise . . . then it’s behind me.