My mother loved Christmas. The decorating began early and covered every available surface—holly on the banister, stockings on the mantel, candles on the tables. My father used to joke that the electric bill went down because we lit the house with candles.
She baked, too, and I helped. First, there were little loaves of cranberry and pumpkin bread, plus little fruitcakes, which we gave as gifts. Next were the endless batches of sugar cookies cut into stars, reindeer, snowmen, Santas—and elaborately decorated. I made myself sick on frosting.