Just glancing at the clock, it’s a little after 10pm on “Boxing Day” – the day after Christmas Day. I’m not sure if other countries around the world call it “Boxing Day”, but we do here. I’m not entirely sure why – I’m sure a visit to either Google or Wikipedia would answer that – or a shout-out to Alexa. More on her later.

We were awoken at 4am on Christmas morning by our middle daughter, asking if it was too early to get up. Given that myself and my other half had only fallen into bed at perhaps 2am after an epic present-wrapping and house-tidying marathon, we told her to go back to bed. She hovered in the bedroom doorway for a few moments before starting negotiations.

“Can I open my stocking though?”

I thought for a few moments, before murmuring “Yes”.

Somewhat miraculously, after the false start we all slept through until 8:30am. Knowing the in-laws would arrive mid-morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed, pulled on some clothes, and made our way downstairs. Apparently leaning our heads into our daughter’s bedrooms was enough disturbance to wake them.

Miss 13 pulled presents out from around the tree, and gave them out around the room – making several mistakes along the way – thankfully caught before any surprises were ruined. She has something of a track record when it comes to delivering presents incorrectly. After making a coffee, feeding the cats, emptying the cat litter, and feeding the fish, I slumped down on the couch to join in the mayhem.

It’s funny really – now the girls are older the presents are getting smaller, and more expensive. Clothes, music, perfume, and books have for the most part replaced toys. Among the various presents retrieved from under the tree, some were mysteriously labelled “To the Beckett Family”, from me. The girls faces lit up when an Amazon Echo was unwrapped – although if I hear one more call of “Alexa, tell me a joke”, or “Alexa, play twenty questions”, I might strangle somebody.

My in-laws arrived mid morning with more presents for everyone, and more mayhem. After making coffees for everybody with a shiny new coffee machine in the kitchen, we started watching the clock – a table was booked at the local pub for Christmas dinner. We have been eating out on Christmas Day for the last several years. The first time we did it, we thought ourselves tremendously extravagant, but soon realised that given the cost of cooking a roast for seven or eight people, and the hours of labour involved both before and after, eating out really wasn’t that much more expensive – and more importantly gave us a huge proportion of the day back to actually spend time together. I can’t remember such a relaxed, happy, jovial day in recent memory.

Unfortunately the day wasn’t happy for our entire family. When I called my parents on Christmas morning, I learned that my sister-in-law’s father had passed away – my brother had called an hour or so before to deliver the news. Those few moments on the phone were awful – my other half noticed my change in tone, and started looking straight at me across the room – searching for answers in my face.

The evening brought terrible television shows, board games, rich food we couldn’t face, and more than a glass or two of strong alcoholic beverages. One card game in particular has caused endless hilarity, and has been quietly noted for our next night in with friends. The game plays on your inhibitions – facing off randomly in a circle against each other in feats of memory, face pulling, singing, impersonating, and so on. Only after thoroughly embarassing yourself in a variety of inventive ways can you claim victory.

Today – Boxing Day – has been altogether quieter. After dragging myself out of bed at perhaps 9am I have busied myself with the usual round of chores, interspersed with more board games, more rich food, more alcoholic beverages, and more terrible television shows. I even made it into town with Miss 18 at lunchtime to find out which shops had opened their doors. The moment of the day came when we visited a fashionable sporting goods store, where she spied a pair of rather fetching leggings. I pointed at the price, she inhaled sharply – just stopping her eyeballs from ejecting from their sockets – and announced “we are leaving”. On what planet does a pair of leggings cost 100 ? We had a good laugh, while walking away from the store about the clientelle – all women of a certain age wearing clothes of a certain style – almost certainly purchasing expensive workout clothes to “look” the part.

Tomorrow I return to work. Actually, “return” is something of a falsehood – I’ll be working from home – doing some research, and preparing for a pre-sales thing in the new year. At least I get to sit in the warm at home, rather than cycling to the office in the cold and wet.

Anyway – here’s to you and yours this Christmas. Hopefully this post finds you well, warm, and happy.

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