The turkey is ordered and at least some of the presents are wrapped. The tree is up and dripping with nonsense, and all the films I want to watch have been marked in yellow highlighter pen in the Radio Times... a ritual from childhood I am not willing to give up, though if the truth be known there is so little time at Christmas to watch anything peacefully, particularly anything that does not please this house full of boys!
But school is not yet finished and the internet has not yet delivered all the gifts I have ordered. I have not iced the Christmas Cake and I am yet to churn out a single mince pie. The weather is mushy. Drizzley and yucky. Not crisp and white as Hollywood insists it should be. For the first time Finn refused to accompany me to the Christingle service and a little drop of sad fell on my Mummy of a Teenager heart, and today I have got a little tummy bug about which you really don't need the details.
My Christmas isn't picture perfect. But I feel Christmassy regardless. And Christmassy feelings are most of the battle aren't they?
(For without them Christmas can feel like the most awful drag and those who harbor draggy feelings in December really aren't good for our souls and must be banished to festive Coventry without so much as a nod to their inner Grinch).
This then is the lull. The calm before the cinnamon scented storm. It is the moment when much, if not all of Christmas is done and there are only fripperies to be organised and enjoyed. It is the time to notice. To sit by the lights of the tree and experience Christmas. To stop and actually listen to the words of the songs piped in to every store and to savor the first sip of that oh so retro bottle of Babycham. It is time to take flowers to the graveside of those we have lost so we can wish them all the love of the season, and to spend quiet time with those old or ailing and for whom Christmas has become just another day. Time to watch the children's nativity and to truly treasure every single second of it, (for all too quickly they are too old to play silly shepherds or haphazard fairies), and it is without doubt time to get in as many early nights as possible with a stack of Christmas chick-lit and a flask - yes, a flask!- full of cocoa...
In my own lull, I tend to contemplate and reflect. I spend evenings with my Leonie workbooks and a pink pen, tearing through sentences for my eyes only, trying to make sense of what has happened in the year just gone and fashioning dreams for the year coming, with my fingers crossed and bound for a year better than those in my recent past. Another ritual of my own devising I cannot see myself ever wanting to give up in any given December in my future... for in its own way it shapes my year and though during this year there have been occasions when I have been barely able to breathe, let alone achieve, still I have been ticking off so many of the 100 things on my Leonie list and it continues to astonish me that writing a wish down is often enough to have the universe conspire to deliver it to you...
Tonight, I have got a couple of silly Christmas novels on my bedside, lavender starched pajamas laid out on my cosy yellow eiderdown, and a row of twinkly tealights lined up along the cast iron mantel of the fireplace in my bedroom. It is cold and I am not sure I can face a bath, but I will shower quickly and coat myself in the sandalwood and germanium sleep balm I am currently obsessing over, read through the wonderful descriptions of all your Christmas's described in the Living Room, and kiss my family goodnight.
I am tired. Tired and Christmassy. Tired and content. This then is the lull.