This week is one of my favourites. Those delicious days between Christmas and New Year, when time slows down and it's all leftovers, long walks and jigsaw puzzles, are what keep me going throughout most of December. I used to relish the build up to Christmas, and would have said that Christmas Eve was my favourite of all the festive days and I still do love that anticipatory feeling, but I've come to appreciate the days that follow more and more. Less rush, less pressure, more time to do a anything, or nothing.
Our Christmas was lovely; slow and quiet and cosy. There were definitely less toys to assemble this year, and I don't think we have two believers anymore either, but the elves still delivered Christmas Eve pyjamas.
Christmas Day itself was manic and joyful, with a busy house full of people and bottles of fizz and lots of food. We hosted and were joined by John's parents who stayed with us for a few days, and my parents.
I kept the table simple but did use my Grandma's silver and my hand embroidered Christmas napkins. I made my own crackers this year too, but would not repeat this again. Yes, it did avoid those rubbish plastic gifts inside which end up in the bin, but they were fiddly and time consuming to make, didn't go bang and a bit of a let down. Next year I will look into buying ready made ones which are fully recyclable. No-one had any energy for games after the late lunch, but Home Alone 2 was on TV. Some Christmas films don't get old.
I received some truly wonderful gifts, including this bauble my friend made using sea glass and pottery she finds on the beach.
A new wallet, perfume, scented candles and chocolates were gratefully received too, as well as these stunning Beth Pegler bracelets from John. I have a couple of her necklaces which i wear pretty much on rotation. Her work is beautifully made.
Books, always a pleasure to receive.
Best of all, and also from John, this fabulous sweatshirt from Muthahood.
Boxing Day lunch was at my parents', with turkey and leek pie followed by trifle or Christmas pudding or mincemeat tart. My mum: an excellent cook and never knowingly undercatered.
The days that followed blur together. There were family birthdays (five in December alone), brisk walks on the beach, muddy walks in the woods.
I know that I spent all day Sunday obsessively working on a new 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, stopping only to eat and take the dog out. I finished it about 9pm that night, much to everyone's relief as it meant we could use the kitchen table again.
New Year's Eve was spent at home with our friends, with a large homemade curry and lots of cocktails, sitting around the table until the small hours.
2020 got off to a good start with a lie in, a big lunch out, then a walk late afternoon. After saying goodbye to our friends, I started taking the Christmas tree down. It's always a bittersweet moment, marking the end of the festivities but also a return to normality which is not unwelcome.
I spent today in a haze of cleaning which always follows the removal of the tree. Suddenly, once the decorations and cards are removed, the house looks a bit dusty and grubby. I stripped beds, cleaned windows, dusted, mopped, vacuumed and found homes for the last Christmas present stragglers that were lying around the house. I did load after load of laundry, washed rugs and cushion covers, even cleaned the oven. I need to do this kind of cleaning in the school holidays as there is no time once I go back to work to do any more than the most cursory housework, and it is satisfying to feel that the house is straight.
I have three more days of holiday left and I intend to make the most of them. Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend for coffee then going into Chichester in the afternoon. I'm not sure about the weekend but John's home, which is nice, and I have ordered some yarn to start crocheting a jumper.
I don't have any New Year's resolutions. I never feel very New Year-ish in the middle of winter (September 1st or sometime in spring would suit me much better) and think that January is a month when I want to be kind to myself, not embark on some drastic lifestyle change that I will not doubt stop after one week. Intentions this year would be to look after myself better; to sleep more, slow down, and generally try to achieve a better balance, although how successful I will be is anyone's guess.
But I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year. I hope that 2020 is a year of hope, health and happiness for you all and thank you very much for continuing to read and leave comments. I appreciate your support, friendship and interest so much.