What does Christmas mean to you?
This time of year can mean lots of different things to people, depending on which side of the faith argument you come down on.
I'm not going to go there... The TRUE meaning of Christmas.
For my part, I've never gone overboard (I don't think) at Christmas, during what often turns out to be the Big Spendfest... Presents are chosen to suit the intended recipient and are not especially designed to impress. I try not to spend too much.
One of the best Christmases I spent with my family, my husband had chosen some very thoughtful little pressies for me from a shop called Poundstretcher. He received some guitar strings from me. Things were very tight that year. The memory of very pinched Christmases strays never far from my mind...
I try to spread the cost of Christmas through the year. All the family's birthdays also fall during these short, dark months, so it can be a very expensive time and could spiral out of control, but I try never to allow that to happen.
My search for family pressies begins with the internet auction sites, second hand and charity shops, junk shops and outlet stores. I'm not totally parsimonious, I must admit, but nobody finds an original oil painting, anything with diamonds in it, or a designer handbag in their stocking. No.
So I thought I might share with you this list - "What Christmas means to me" - You might see it as somewhat of a frivolous list:
The first sighting of Robin Redbreast in the garden
Slurping Chocolate Cherry Liqueurs
Enjoying two kinds of baked stuffing, one of which always has to be sage and onion, always separate from the turkey that my vegetarian self now never eats...
Time to put my feet up and catch up with some Christmassy films, such as Mousehunt
Christmas Cake heavy with dried fruit, marzipan and soft icing, and rich Christmas pudding burning with brandy, the flame turning blue... I'll be seeing the dentist early in the New Year!
Getting fed-up with the endless perfume commercials on TV promising beauty and opulence...
Parcels glittering gold and silver under the green tree
Red, Gold and Green colours about the house
Bruce on the radio singing 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town'
Not being able to see the carpet for crisp, ripped wrapping paper
Giving my best cutlery - Kings pattern - its annual outing
Steamed up windows in the kitchen as my husband cooks lunch while sipping advocaat
Kitschy Christmas napkins and cake on paper plates (my mother's tradition. She had no shame, the woman!)
Making a home-made sherry trifle you could stand a spoon up in
The tingling anticipation and excitement of Christmas Eve...
Why are so many of my traditions about food? It's no wonder my plans to become a Sticktoria Beckham lookey-likey are regularly scuppered!
Most of all, for me, Christmas and New Year are about spending time with friends and close family, and feeling warm and replete with hugs...
May this time of year bring to you thoughts and feelings to gladden your heart...
And, whatever you believe, may the days ahead of us be happy!