Last week, for the first time since September, I only worked my contracted part-time hours, so although I didn't get to have an actual Christmas holiday (retail is rubbish 'cause people still want to buy stuff) it felt like a break by comparison with the last months, and with previous years when I've had less time off over Christmas than in a normal week. I was quite fortunate, finishing work at 2PM Christmas Eve, and having Christmas Day and Boxing Day off.
I was less fortunate a couple of hours before I was due to finish work, by coming down with my traditional Christmas cold. I suppose it was inevitable - there had been people sneezing and coughing in the shop all through December, but there are 365 days in a year - why did it have to hit me on Christmas Eve of all those days? It's ridiculous, and I am not impressed! But all moaning aside, it was a very mild case of the sneezes, and it didn't really make me feel ill, and by evening on Boxing Day I was absolutely fine again.
My sister has come back to the Isle of Wight for her Christmas break, her longest holiday since she's been living in London, and she goes back in the new year. Christmas Eve we watched the Muppet Christmas Carol, which we have seen so many times that we were joining in with all the songs and a large amount of the dialogue. It really is one of the best adaptations out there, and has to be watched as close to Christmas Eve as possible.
My Grandma was due to come to us for Christmas dinner, but when my Mum went to collect her from her nursing home, she decided she didn't feel well enough. She's 92, and very aware of the fact. It was disappointing, although not entirely surprising, when she decided not to come for dinner, although Mum persuaded her to come up to see us for a little while, even if not for lunch. My uncle and aunt dropped in with her Christmas present too.
I received some wonderful gifts from my family and friends this year, with a very bookish, creative and nerdy flavour to them.
I've already shown these off, but from my Secret Santa (who it is probably safe to reveal as Bex now): The Rook, The Thirteenth Tale and We Should All Be Feminists, as well as a bookish tote bag and some knitting wool.
From my parents: The Handsome Man's Deluxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith, the latest in his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. The cover claims it is signed by the author, although the pen marks on the title page resemble some form of hieroglyphics. They also bought me Terra's World, the sequel to Terra which I read in the Bout of Books readathon and which was one of my favourite books of the year.
From my sister: The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern, one of my favourite comfort-read authors, and The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth, a non-fiction book about what makes up good writing. She also bought me a second-hand copy of Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien, and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, who is probably best known for her illustrations of the Chronicles of Narnia series.
Judith also bought me a book token, because she's been rather ill and lost track of how many presents she bought me (plenty. Too many, probably.)
From my sister: This t-shirt:
Also a notebook/journal which is a replica of River Song's journal from Doctor Who.
From my parents: Ready, Set, Novel - a Very Useful Resource for plotting a novel, with all sorts of pages for figuring out your characters, outlining, brainstorming, etc. This is produced by the people behind NaNoWriMo.
And Judith bought me a fancy notebook too:
I was very touched by all these writerly gifts, because it made me feel that my closest friends and family have noticed me picking up my long-neglected writing, and want to encourage me in it.
From Judith: a cross-stitch bookmark kit
From another friend, Sharon: a make-your-own purse set - part of which I can make up with my newly-acquired sewing machine.
From my friend Esther (who is also Judith's youngest sister) some homemade chocolate brownies, and hand-made earrings and bracelet.
Thor: The Dark World DVD from my parents
Starfighter cookie-cutters - put together to make a 3D cookie spaceship! Awesome. (These were from Judith too.)
Boxing Day was a traditionally lazy day, with no alarms being set, and lots of lounging around the house reading. I am very much not someone who rushes straight out to the shops as soon as the post-Christmas sales are launched. Boxing day is for family. We spent the afternoon playing a long game of Isle of Wight Monopoly. I am terrible at Monopoly, but yesterday I managed to stay in the game a lot longer than predicted, even managing to acquire some respectable properties (although I was a very close second to be declared bankrupt!)
How did you spend your Christmas?