It’s that time of year again – the winter solstice, when the nights are at their longest and summer is just a distant memory.
Good job there’s a massive religious festival to think about and to take our minds off our vitamin D deficiencies and the knowledge that heating bills are about to go up... again.
There’s a lot to get done and, without the last fortnight off work, I don’t think anyone I know would have got any presents, never mind the halls of the Judd household being decked.
And though it’s a slog and next year I absolutely will buy a present a month (not only to spread the cost but also the stress), it’s a brilliant time.
Houses festooned with flashing lights, signs put out for Santa to call in at children’s houses, and – my personal favourite this year – a window winter village scene complete with some snow blowers.
On top of that we get mince pies, more chocolate than you can shake a stick at and the chance to drink sherry at any given time of day.
It’s all very civilised, I think, and designed to help us cope with nights that are drawing in and the rubbish winter weather.
It also helps us look back over the year gone by, and think of all the good things that have happened during the past 12 months or so.
For me, personally, I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am to have a set of excellent friends.
I’ve also got the most brilliant parents a girl could have and the ability to pay the mortgage every month.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how the bad things that happen to people in this world always seem more tragic at Christmas, and how that really shouldn’t be the case.
But perhaps I spoke too soon.
Perhaps it’s because we use this time of year to think about the joys and good things in our lives that it’s especially poignant when we hear about disasters in other people’s.
We become more empathetic, imagining ourselves in their position.
And perhaps that’s what Christmas is all about – reuniting us all with our humanity.