Tempting chocolate truffles in a golden box.
Group photo: fitting thirteen people on and in front of a sofa, then programming the camera's self-timer. The first couple of times nothing happens, and we sit there smiling at the camera as it stares back at us with its glossy black eye. On the third try the person adjusting the camera gets it to work but doesn't arrive back at the sofa on time, so the photo shows her from behind as she tries to dive back in next to her husband. Finally it works. After a moment's hush we cheer, and the sudden noise makes the baby startle and burst into tears.
He's beaming as he rocks back and forth on the large green plastic rocking horse; it's a hand-me-down from older siblings who now sit beside him clapping and singing "Yankee Doodle Went to Town" to make him go more quickly.
Settled on a cluster of rocks by the lake, an elderly woman scatters crumbs around her and calmly greets the wheeling gulls.
A display at the train station shows an old-fashioned village where lights glow from little homes, happy figurines have snowball fights or glide among the evergreens on sleds, and a train travels round and round it all on a looping track. The display draws people who smile and pause to lean over it. They tip themselves for a moment into the village where everything is repeating, moving without going anywhere; no progress and no end, and for a few seconds, peace.
There are joys planned out for them: food brought from the outside and musicians who do their best to sing beloved old songs. There are also moments of spontaneous joy that feel more real and lasting even though they're over quickly - as the party winds down they bat a balloon around; it glances off their fingers and stays airborne for a few happy minutes.
It's winter but feels like autumn. Turtle Pond looks like a sheet soaked in deep blue ink, and beyond it the Great Lawn is green and gold. The shadows of trees stretch out on the grass as if they're taking a leisurely nap.