It's two weeks before Christmas, which means the Shaughnessys are deep into their December rituals.
Cookies have been baked and sprinkled with enough sugar to give a gingerbread man diabetes. A Christmas tree, sparkling with colored lights and surrounded by a small troop of Santa Clauses, stands in the corner of the living room, waiting.
Harry and Charlotte Shaughnessy watch their children dip into a stash of ornaments: a Welsh flag from Grace's semester abroad; a bauble from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where Todd is a freshman; a trinket embroidered with Brennen's name and 1998, the year the youngest Shaughnessy was born.
Harry, nursing a rum and Coke, smiles at the sight of an even older ornament: a stocking that says "Charlotte and Harry, 1988," their first Christmas as a couple.