Funny thing about Christmas. When it's just gone you breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why you bothered, yet come next October you're planning the next one. At least, that's what it's like for me.
I've realised, over the past few days, that I rely too heavily on my grown-up children at Christmas. The thought that they might NOT come home for The Day turns my stomach to water and makes my blood run cold. Yet what happens when they've all got families and want to spend the time at home? Even my elder daughter brings her lot to my house on Boxing Day and we end up crammed into my small, cluttered house having to eat a buffet lunch because there's no room round the table.
My late husband and I hosted Christmas for my parents and his aunt and uncle (surrogate grandparents for the children) from very early on. There were the odd ones where we spent them with my parents or aunt and uncle, like the Christmas immediately after my father died, or when aunt and uncle were in Australia, but mostly it was everybody to ours! And they stayed overnight, too. It was easier that way, everybody could have a drink and the children loved it.
Later when we moved to Whitstable, we used to go and fetch Aunt on Christmas Eve (3 hour round trip) and take her back the day after Boxing Day. My mum was either living with us or up the road by then.
So, for around 35 years, I've had Christmas. The traditions grow up and change, inevitably, because I no longer have four children clambering into bed with me on Christmas morning. Instead, it's after we've had our first glass of fizz that we open our presents. And, for the last 23 years, we've had what started life as the Leftovers Party on the 27th, but is just Mum's Party now. The guest list has changed but there are always guitars involved. At least, I assumed so. But, again, I realised things have changed and there will probably be no more parties on the 27th.
And my children have changed. I now find the old role reversal in play, and I really didn't expect that until I was at least 75! But change happens, and we have to expect it and accept it. I suppose if I still had a husband it would be different, but I don't think there's any danger of a new one on the horizon at my age - would I want one? Er - no.
So I'll go back to being mad old cat lady who writes books. And try and ignore next Christmas until it thrusts itself upon me and I come out with the inevitable "Um, will you be here for Christmas Day this year?"
Funny thing about Christmas. Makes you think.