The older I get the more random I behave in shops. This week I have told many a shop assistant that “I am at that stage of Christmas shopping when I’m actually completely done, but I’m buying more nonsense just in case I’m not” and they have humored me with a smile and I have watched them wrap something nobody I know really needs, and wondered what it is all for.

Christmas is a conundrum isn’t it? When I’m not popping a bow on another box full of stuff I’m sure my people could happily live without, I am doing battle with Ste, because those in his family want vouchers or money and to me that seems to suck the very life out of the purpose of hunting for a little something that will put a smile on the faces of those we love.

Today then, my lovely Ste is on his hands and knees wrapping yet nine million more presents because he is so much better at it than I, (and simply pops a Gaia film on and loses himself in a kerfuffle of wrapping paper and spirituality), while I worry my way around the house, endlessly topping up bowls of sweets and fishing the shells of walnuts out of the dishes because Finley cannot leave the nutcracker alone, but does not realize that we are a family in possession of a bin!

Later I will head upstairs to festivise (Yup: just made that word up!) the boy’s bedrooms. They are fifteen and thirteen now but no-one is too old for Santa’s Elves bedding and fairy lights are they? Before creating a Christmas plate full of nibbly bits to shove down the older one’s chatty throat before he disappears to spend the afternoon bowling with friends, and hurrying Ste out of the door to finish his shopping – otherwise known as running around like a headless chicken in search of stocking fillers for me!

And then oh bliss, the house will be mine for the afternoon: to sit with a Frosty Fancy and a cup of tea, by the light of the little white Christmas tree in my bedroom. To wrap my gifts for Ste and hide them all over again so he doesn’t shake them in pre-emptive wonder and I don’t find myself possessed by the Christmas devil and chuck them at his head like I did the year before last, when I threw each gift in turn at him, shouting what it was as I did (That’s a Fitbit, and that’s Oasis vinyl to play on THIS record player, and that’s a bottle of aftershave because I HATE YOU!). Hell’s bells, it’s a good job we can laugh about it now right?? Having a pre-menstrual Mrs. Christmas around the place isn’t fun in anybody’s book.

Thank heavens then that I am calm this Christmas. That the house is twinkly and pretty and that between us we have decided that we are having chicken on Christmas Day instead of turkey because we have finally admitted that none of us actually like turkey and who cares anyway as long as there is stuffing? This then is the bonus of having the cosiest of Christmas’s. Just the three of us around the table. Dressed in pyjamas for a five-course extravaganza of food and cracker pulling. the Radio Times already scrawled with highlighted programs we all agree we cannot miss.

I have mixed feelings about Christmas these days. Finley said yesterday that Christmas hasn’t been the same since Mum died, that she was Christmas. And he is right. It is odd for us not to be looking forward to a house full of people. For Christmas to be calm, not crazy! And this will be our first Christmas without the bliss of a warm glass of red wine, Bucks Fizz to accompany the unwrapping of Santa’s generosity, or a gin and tonic to toast the year with. Christmas was Mum, but it was also alcohol and now that we don’t drink, it is so very odd to experience such a tidal shift in atmosphere.

Life has changed. It is different now. Calmer and quieter.

This afternoon then I will watch The Holiday (again). Lust after Jude Law. And that bath. Take a bath of my own in cinnamon and black pepper, and don floral jim-jams and socks with pom-poms to light candles everywhere and settle down with a Christmas ghost story, a glass of Cucumber tonic (delish!) and a bowl of vanilla sprinkled popcorn bigger than my head.

Merry Christmas Housekeepers, may your holiday be everything you want it to be too.