Christmas begins before Christmas. Christmas begins well before Christmas. For us it could be said to begin with Christmas lists. Not being imaginative, or strongly endowed with mind-reading abilities, we solicit ideas for what to buy people from the people themselves. We also rack our brains for what to suggest that people buy us. For some in our families we are reduced to exchanging vouchers which may seem more like hand-shaking.
Having got the lists then there is the coordination to avoid duplication of presents which shouldn't be duplicated (two copies of the same book would be an example). There's also ordering presents, hoping they arrive in time, worrying when the days count down and there's no sign of them. I was very glad when a parcel arrived from YesAsia on the last but one day of work. There's also concealing the presents at home from one another - this year I used a suitcase which I hope hid the smells of bath stuff.
There a number of traditions to keep going, particularly for Virginia's family. She makes toffee which is much appreciated down in Loughton. We take that down along with an apple crumble which she made this time without cinnamon to satisfy some palates. Virginia didn't have to put together a quiz this year which she often has done.
Our cats don't really get into the Christmas spirit themselves - they were signed up for a pre-Christmas visit to the vets but only Tabitha went. Amelia hid so well we couldn't find her. I even thought that somehow she must have got outside so looked around the nearby streets. But sometime later she re-materialised as if nothing had happened - she's obviously mastered the art of invisibility.
Christmas Day we managed to Skype one of Virginia's sisters out in New Zealand. Quite funky display and sound waiting for Skype to connect! That it works is a feat of technology. Then to Girton Baptist Church for a short service, and in the afternoon we went to Kettering first to my father's care home - we gave him a new bin to replace the one he has creased with his electric chair. He wasn't well enough to make Christmas at my sister's, and in fact we didn't stay long at all. Then onto my sister's for a quiet Christmas Day compared with Boxing Day. Virginia let me try one of her bath bombs and I ended up covered in red glitter.
The travelling on Christmas Day was quieter than Boxing Day too - we hit yet another tailback on the M11 from an accident and were delayed an hour reaching Loughton on Boxing Day. So they had started the meal at Virginia's parents before we got there. We had to pull crackers while the dog was shut outside.
The next stage is to repair to the house of Virginia's brother William two doors away for opening presents, and then the Christmas Quiz run this year by Charlotte. A lot of the questions made me realise I'm behind the times and culturally irrelevant. There was then the presents from the tree (Virginia's parents also do stockings so we left with far more than we came with).
One present I received was the Funko Pop! Rocket figure - I stood my little collection of such figures on the top of a cupboard in the study. (Some may need blutack to continue to stand). Perhaps most of us express ourselves not by what we do but by what we like.