Children's excitement attains new levels of fever pitch as 

Hysterical parents 

Reach for the bottled wine, which

Instigating a desperate search for the corkscrew, followed by a 

Scramble to wrap presents in

Time to have them under the tree for 

Morning, when fidgety offspring will

Arise ridiculously early

Seeking assurance that Santa has paid a visit.

Now that we have celebrated the festive season. That season that takes weeks of preparation, but is over in 24 hours. I wonder how Christmas was for you?

My favourite part of Christmas was, and still, is Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve was always the time my family would gather for a meal. For me, there was something special about the night before Christmas and sharing food around a table. Sometimes we’d play games. I have flapped many fishes across the kitchen floor and tried to pick up boxes with my teeth while standing on one leg. Food and games are a great way to build connections. The family tradition of eating on Christmas Eve started when we were children because Christmas Day was spent with Grandparents.  Mum would cook a special meal for her and my dad and if we were good, we’d be allowed to sit in on the first course before being packed off to bed.

I suppose it gave them a little quality time, a few minutes of peace, before the inevitable disturbances of children eager to know if Santa had been yet and was it time to get up. I vividly remember creeping downstairs with my mum, who quietly opened the door to the living room and then seeing the shadowy, shapes of presents laid on the floor, followed by my mum’s reassurance that, yes Santa has been! My excitement was palpable and Santa was real

Today, those traditions have changed. They’ve had to evolve, because the nature of families alter – births, marriages, deaths, distances, fallings out – all add their impact. This Christmas was spent in Vienna. Chris and I still had a special meal on Christmas Eve, which is the tradition here in Austria. Modern technology, praise the Lord for FaceTime, helped us connect across the miles, as we opened presents with my mum back in the UK on Christmas morning. The weather for the main day was less kind and it rained very hard. When it did finally clear, Chris and I headed into the centre of Vienna. First to a church to light a few candles and take a few moments to remember family who are no longer with us, then for a brief wander round the Christmas market at the Rathaus, but the cold crept into our bones and we headed back to the warm of the flat.

To sum up this Christmas, it was quiet and it was over quickly. What does it mean to me? Connection… small moments of joy… this year it was my sister, who spent a lot of time crafting some marshmallow penguins for Chris, including placing them in a presentation box, hand made from a sugar puffs packet, so the the gluten free sweets fit perfectly. It was funny. It was touching and it was done from the heart. Christmas needs nothing more.