We flouted convention yet again this year.
Christmas celebrations happened here at the weekend, with turkey (and vegetarian options) stuffings and sauces and sprouts, lots of puddings with brandy cream, smart crackers (the sort you pull) full of good jokes and gold hats and really useful things like teeny screwdrivers and measuring spoons. There were flashing lights and tinsel, clementines and good cheeses, mince pies, pigs-in-blankets and there is a Christmas cake that I had completely forgotten, still sitting there.
Father Christmas managed to deliver during the afternoon via the very small Victorian fireplace in my bedroom. The smaller members of the family had some great gifts, including a very surprising toy lobster. Older members played with the new toys, read the new books and built a spectacular marble run.
In the evening half the family went back to their new home, having moved into it last week and needing to unpack a few dozen more big boxes. The other half, who had travelled huge distances to be here, stayed on, built an even bigger marble run and also ran themselves up the Malvern Hills. They left after another couple of days to help hose down elephants in Thailand - among other wonderful things.
My husband would not have been happy with this flouting of church routine. His life was largely controlled by such concerns and we all supported him in this. But this is another change in my life since his death that I totally accept. Life in widowhood presents so many changes, and my family members lead very different lives. I have also experienced different Christmas celebrations at different times, including a Russian Orthodox Christmas on January 6th. I try to stay flexible in every way.
So I am here, home largely alone, while so many others are panic-buying in the retail park. It's a warm and comforting feeling that I've done my best for the family and if I fancy a cheese sandwich for Christmas dinner I can have exactly that.
Very happy, peaceful Christmas to you all, where ever and when ever you celebrate.