His mother sat along in the kitchen, dressed in a sweat shirt and jeans, her hair pulled back and pinned so tight it stretched the skin taut on her face. The house was dark, no dishes were set on the table, and the oven was cold. I realized for the first time what Tony had been so intent on achieving and it made me ashamed for not taking his efforts more seriously. I was ashamed, too, because my family was so stable and complete, our Christmas so abundant that the bounty overflowed outdoors. There were wreathes on our doors and an electric Santa on the roof and a two-string coil of blinking blue lights around the spruce beside the driveway. Inside was Christmas music and a crackling fire and dishes heaped with nuts and the chocolate candies my mother made every year. Our Christmas tree was large and full, lit as bright as the night sky, with an enormous silver star on top. I was ashamed and grateful and guilty all at once. Tony and his sister had set up a tree, but it was skinny and sparse, with a few tinny ornaments and a scattering of tinsel. I realized then, with the kind of sudden irrefutable insight that kids are prone to, that Tony’s family could not stay here much longer, that the house would be sold, that this would be the last Christmas we would spend as neighbors.