Well that's it then. Back to normality.
And by normality I mean, Easter eggs in the supermarket. (First spotted on January the sodding 8th.)
What a buzz kill. Who buys this stuff on January 8th? Because some bugger clearly does.
Our boys are lucky if there's still a choice of Disney Princess eggs by the time Knighty or I (yes, I know it's my job) get around to lobbing a few in the trolley along with the rest of the food shop. It should be outlawed. Along with flogging tinsel next to Halloween cozzies.
How can this be the best way to 'enjoy' the seasons huh? Overlapping them all? What's the rush? Where's the fire? Who likes their sticky toffee pud sitting on the table while they're still chowing down on pie & mash? Okay, that wouldn't be, like, the worst thing. But still, all this cramming everything in at once... doesn't leave the best taste in the mouth, does it?
As a lifelong avid fan of Christmastime, and everything it should stand for, I'm trying my best here not to roll out words like humbug.
And then I walked Jasper over Cannock Chase this week, and just a little way off the beaten path we found a festive crime scene... unwanted, or perhaps just un-purchased(?) Xmas trees, strewn hopelessly through the woods as if they'd been making a desperate attempt for salvation while some Tarantino-style nutter pursued them with a chainsaw... lest someone bag themselves a free Christmas tree once the lots had shut up shop. Sigh.
Maybe I'm just being miserable. Post-Chrimbo blues? Perhaps.
We did seem to miss a few too many Xmas traditions this time around, I feel like there were a few itches left unscratched. Christingle was cancelled due to the snow, which was a real shame. Whatever your persuasions are, there's something special about a small community of families all coming together by candlelight in a quiet and hopeful place.
And then I sort of lost a bit more of my Christmas groove because, and Jim will rip the Mick here, but I didn't get chance to cook (burn) much. And Christmas is so much about the food. The sharing of your home and time and warmth and (limited) culinary skills.
In fact, for all of Christmas we only had one family gathering at our place because, well, that's blindingly obvious once you've had a mooch though our renovation stuff... it's tricky entertaining with no sinks. Or oven. or guests willing to risk a bit of ceiling in their canapé .
And then most regrettable of all, due to the mad dash getting the Green Room ready so the kids finally had somewhere on the ground floor - plastered, painted and furnished - to at least behold the Xmas tree, we didn't actually get around to all flopping onto a sofa together and enjoying that most sacred of Knight family traditions... howling at Clarke W Griswold while scoffing Quality Streets and homemade sausage rolls.
Oh well. Don't listen to me. We did have a lovely Christmas. In many ways this year was harder - people have, of course, moved on with their own lives (do they still think about our beautiful girl? Do they realise what's been lost?) and we don't want to, even though we know it doesn't work that way. But life is for living and so there was a concerted effort not just for the kids but for us all. For Mena too. Mena loved Christmas and would not be impressed had we let another undo us. So I guess we did our best. We played Wham and met up with friends and jumped on a Christmas train and watched the Vicar of Dibley downing sprouts and wherever possible, we enjoyed the boys' enjoyment. We laughed and made merry and cried and laughed again. We pretended it doesn't still hurt quite so much.
Christmastime is always going to be difficult. Mena would've been 30 on Dec 5th 2016, and there we all were organising her sendoff. Readying ourselves for the final goodbye, as if we could ever say goodbye to our little sister. As if our mum could ever say goodbye to her beautiful and brave little girl.
I flat out refuse to 'move on' from the death of my sister. But I will do my best to get on. And for now, that means getting this house straight so that next Christmas, it's full to the rafters with good food, good people and good spirit.