So what impressions are you left with after ten days making merry?
For me, Christmas in Blighty was made particularly significant by attending or listening to the Nine Lessons & Carols first at our local church and then on the radio at Kings College, Cambridge. I had not felt particularly Christmassy this year, but listening to the build up to the arrival of Jesus plus the traditional carols brought what it was all about thankfully home.
I'm not very church-goey, especially as there is no C of E church in Montpellier, and sitting through Catholic mass is not something I relish, so I do the traditional English thing of only attending church when it matters or when I happen to be in the country. Which means Christmas.
I also drag the boys along so they can appreciate an English traditional C of E Christmas (whether they like it or not) and at least be imbibed with what Christmas really means from an early age. We went to church on Christmas Day which they suffered knowing they'd get no pressies if they moaned. Christmas without the religious significance is as heartless a piece of commercial exploitation as it gets. It's just all greed : food greed and acquisition greed.
Anyway, moving on... I have a lasting memory of Greenwhich Naval College where we went ice-skating in bright orange skates to twinkling lights and shouts of delight followed by mulled wine and the Docklands Light Railway journey through Canary Wharf fairyland.
Family get-togethers of laughing children, Roman Playmobil figures fighting it out on the carpet, reading out the same jokes from crackers, trying to put together a rubber puzzle in the shape of a cube, Handel's Messiah to pressie-wrapping at midnight, flaming Christmas pud with brandy cream, and the Queen's speech so full of generosity and kindness.
Then back to New Year's Eve with a dear friend to sup on Bottarga di Muggine from Sardinia grated over fresh pasta followed by a grilled/smoked veal chop with stuffed peppers and a different wine for every fork-full... Then watched a DVD on Andy Goldsworthy and his incredible sculptures worked from Nature, in Nature. Not a wild party, but a delicious evening for all the senses. Texts to loved ones at midnight, then phone calls later once the over-charged lines were free, and to bed, thankfully, gratefully, warmly.
Happy New Year to one and all, and may 2008 see your foes defeated and yourselves victorious in whatever it is you are trying to overcome!