The solitary country house is most beautiful observed from the cold hill above, as it shines out yellow squares of light and firesparks, promising friendship. The smell of Christmas cookies baking can be as satisfying as eating them, the first cup of Christmas cheer as gratifying as the next five combined.
Lighting the tree is the finest part by far. Often what precedes is better than what follows, even when, like Christmas Day, what follows is good.
The first kiss, clumsy as it always is - first kisses generally have all the grace of two freight trains colliding on a dark siding - can be the most moving. However physically inadequate, it conveys the promise of further kisses, more esthetic or athletic, and the promise of proximity before and after, the companionship that a kiss seals.
By that way of thinking, the most excitement available under the mistletoe is not the touch itself, but the instant just before, when she (or he, depending) steps forward to join you there. That is the moment when you know someone else wants to be near you, a moment blushing with what might be.
The original point of Christmas, now better reflected on tranquil Christmas Eve than on the madcap day itself, was to proclaim what might be.
Wise men and shabby shepherds alike went to Bethlehem that first Christmas Eve because they hoped what was happening there would begin to elevate humankind - to make us more truly humane and deserving of each other.
So far, it has not worked out that way.
But that does not mean the ideal was wrong or the goal unattainable. What might be only elusive, not impossible.
Peace on earth and mercy mild are still possible.
On Christmas Eve, all things are possible.