This year we celebrated the turn of the year - the winter solstice - with a candlelit party at home. Family arrived at 4.30pm just as darkness had fallen. They came into the house lit only by candles, there were no other lights on except the Christmas tree ones. We played Christmas carols and drank mulled wine and ate lots of festive food and chatted among the flickering light. Our eyes became accustomed to the candles' gentle glow and the dancing shadows and even though the house was full of people there was a gentleness to the gathering, a reminder perhaps of older times when semi darkness and candlelight was commonplace, when the setting of the sun brought inevitable stillness, when there was peace and quiet and all were safely gathered in.