The house has grown quieter throughout the day. A Sunday night after the holiday hears no more loud simultaneous conversations in bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms — all of which happen, inexplicably, on floors. My daughter’s friends seem to find our floors more appealing, more to their liking than our soft, comfy furniture.

One daughter is back at school, many states away. Next fall, the other will follow her sister West, just not as far. A loud, roaring quiet echoes through the emptying nest. One bedroom is now closed, vents shut, conserving the household heat. Soon we’ll have, what, three guest rooms. Come visit us; bring your friends, plenty of floor space.

Our dogs sense the silence and sporadically bark at December phantoms. There’s nothing out there, boys, Grinches and ghosts don’t show up till the 24th.

I’m reminded by a comforting wife that Christmastime will bring her parents, other relatives, our daughter back from the western prairie and until then we still get at least one lovely teen, her boyfriend and their entourage. And thinking about it reminds me that I’ve actually bought chestnuts to roast over an open Kenmore.

For now I’ll do my best not to act like the bears (grizzly, not Chicago) and hibernate.