The decorations are up, the cards are made (if not written) and yesterday Matilda attended a party with her friends, complete with Secret Santa gift exchange. Christmas is well and truly upon us.
We bloggers fall into two camps when it comes to Christmas, don't we? There are the bloggers who have a Christmas theme (Nordic? Monochrome? 1980s foil extravaganza?) and there are the bloggers who have an ethos (Embrace the consumerist frenzy to create maximum childhood magic? Embrace dark nights and the gifting of homemade mince pies to create maximum childhood magic? Tut at the whole kit, caboodle and overpriced crackers?).
And I don't suppose I'm any different.
I'm not one of the theme bloggers. I don't understand how people can AFFORD to buy a whole house's worth of new baubles every year (plus a sofa; adverts tell me that it's essential to get a new sofa "in time for Christmas" rather than "in January, once tipsy people have stopped waving glasses of mulled wine alarmingly close to your soft furnishings") and I don't know how they manage to keep their kids' festive crafts on trend ("No, Marmaduke - not the green and red crayons; colour your tree in grey").
So, that makes me an ethos blogger.
And I do have opinions about Christmas.
I have opinions about Elf on the Shelf (sinister, manipulative and seemingly only done by people who still think it's funny to pretend that Barbie dolls give blow jobs) and I have opinions about Kindness Elves (is "the elves are checking you're being good" so very different from "the elf is checking you're not being bad"?).
I have opinions about incredibly complicated advent calendars (fine if they just look pretty; tiresome if you have to spend 25 days sticking to scheduled fun) and about book advents (the books gifted later in the month don't get enough of a look in).
I have opinions about Christmas Eve boxes (love the idea of reading a festive book or watching a Christmas movie together as a family; love the idea of everybody wearing nice new pyjamas in the photos the following morning; opposed to that nice, quiet evening being turned into something expensive and showy).
And I have opinions about how many of the presents should be credited to Santa (the contents of the stocking ONLY) and how many should be credited to parents/siblings/pets (everything under the tree). Although I've not yet clarified my opinion on Santa himself (enhancing the magic or lying to my child?).
But my ethos this year is to keep Christmas low key and to let it evolve at our natural pace.
So: we hung a few baubles in the living room, the dining room and Matilda's room (while she napped - the excitement on her face when she woke up and saw them!) but things look pretty minimalist at the moment; we're slowly adding decorations as Matilda and I make them (or I impulse buy them in discount stores).
So: Matilda's winter and Christmas themed books have been given pride of place on
So: I have a list of festive crafts and activities I think Matilda would enjoy and, when we're at a loose end, I refer to that. This means we're making gingerbread men instead of cupcakes and paper chains instead of suncatchers, but there's no schedule for our pottering and there will be no sense of failure if we don't score everything off.
So: we decided not to stress ourselves out trying to get in and out of town on buses full of shrieking children at a time when Matilda would be tired and hungry just so we could say we saw the lights go on. But we'll probably catch a carol concert and we'll stop by the Christmas Village some afternoon when the weather's on our side.
December is always a pretty special month for Steve and me, anyway. In addition to Christmas, we both have December birthdays and we (currently he) take the week between them off work. We have an annual "mini Christmas" with friends and we see Steve's parents on his dad's birthday, which is right between Christmas and New Year. There's lots to look forward to without trying to cram the month with Maximum Festivity.
And, at not-quite-two, Matilda knows no different. She's not demanding to meet a different Santa every Sunday; she's not circling the whole Argos catalogue in highlighter pen; she has one party in her social calendar and a visit from her granny. So we can be as low key as we like.
It feels right, though: December being a time when we mosey around together as a family, seeing where our moods and the weather take us.
December feels like a time to shelter from the cold and wet and dark; to hole up indoors with crayons and glittery stickers; to bake; to hang out with friends and family at home.
Avoiding the fizzing strip lights and looping Christmas tunes of department stores; avoiding the long queues and crowded buses of weekend town trips.
Do I want to keep up the blogger cliches and use the word hygge? I do. It fits my Christmas ethos nicely. December is a time for hygge.
And Christmas, to me, is a time to keep things simple.
What is Christmas to you?