This is my last blog before Christmas so I'm going to write about why I love Christmas so very much. Not the big things that everyone loves - getting gifts, singing carols, spending time with family, eating too much, enjoying the lights and decorations - but the little things.
- School holidays. The children get two weeks off school either side of Christmas. So no having to wake them up and find clean uniform at 7 a.m., then standing outside the school gates in the freezing wind each afternoon.
- The Christmas Radio Times. This is the official listings magazine of the BBC, and the bumper Christmas issue lands on my doormat a full three weeks before the big day, giving me plenty of time to plan my Christmas viewing with a highlighter pen. This year it'll be The Queen's speech, of course, and a new Doctor Who, and the latest offering from Wallace and Grommit.
- TV holidays. It seems that all my favourite programmes - Bones, Lie to Me, House - are taking a mid-season break over Christmas. I love this. It means that I can watch The Queen, Doctor Who and Wallace and Grommit without worrying about missing Booth and Brennan's first kiss. UK TV shows generally have a short season - a series of six episodes isn't unusual; 9 or 12 if you're lucky, so just as you're getting into something, it ends. US shows stretch that to a full 22 or even 24 episodes, guaranteeing regular weekly relaxation and entertainment for almost six months, but with a thoughtful two-week break each season to enable me to go on my Summer holiday or enjoy the festive TV treats without missing anything.
- Nativity Plays. My youngest, little Ceri, was an angel in this year's nativity play. She wore a Temple dress I had bought a year ago in the hope that her biological father, my ex husband, might give permission for her to be sealed to Roderic and I. Sadly he didn't, but she looked far more of an angel (in my biased opinion) than the others in their glittery and gauzy winged costumes. She stomped on the stage, halo flashing, unwedgied her knickers in front of the 100 watching parents, then saw my frown at such unladylike behaviour, folded her arms and scowled at me. Happily, by the time baby Jesus arrived on the stage, she was singing and smiling again and looking every inch the angel she is.
- Time off work. LawCare closes down between Christmas and New Year so I get a whole extra week off, in addition to my four weeks annual holiday allowance.
- Having my husband home. Roderic works in Russia much of the time (at least, when there's not a global recession on) but I'm guaranteed to have him at Christmas and for the following couple of weeks, since the Russian Orthodox Christmas is on 10th January, so the country isn't back to work until after then.
- Giving gits. A couple of years ago my parents asked that we not give them any presents. Needless to say I ignored that. I spend all year buying Christmas presents, and take great pride in picking the ideal gift which I know the person will love based on clues I've picked up. For example, a dear friend admired my popcorn machine back in July and idly commented that she wished she had one. Guess what she's getting for Christmas from me? (Emma, if you're reading this, it was someone else, OK?) There is indeed more joy in giving than in receiving.
Yes, I also love the fact that people who never go to Church (90% of the UK population) might actually go to a carol service or think about the saviour. I love turkey with bread sauce, cranberry sauce, stuffing, chipolatas and roast potatoes. I love seeing the children's faces on Christmas morning. But sometimes it's the little things that are really the icing on the (Christmas) cake.