Best Christmas ever
Christmas is a time for giving, sharing and welcoming an abundance of family and good friends into one's home.
So I was a little apprehensive that for the first time ever, it was just going to be me, the wife and the kids for the big day. Would this somehow diminish the magic and the true meaning of the festive season?
In a word: no.
In three words: not at all.
It was, in four words, the best Christmas ever.
The inevitable early morning start, with the snow around the fireplace from Santa's visit still fresh, was similar to previous years in that we'd always done that bit with just our little family.
But around 9am the 'just us' Christmas came into its own. With no-one to go to, the wife and I could crack open the Bailey's and both have a glass.
It was so refreshing not to have anyone to get the kids ready for or make sure the house was especially tidy. No poisonous asides for my wife from her mother-in-law this year.
Nor was there the usual panic around 11am to get the turkey in the oven on time. If it was a bit late, so be it. With just us, there was plenty of food in the house to keep us going.
We were able to pop along to the pub for a drink around 1pm, no questions asked. No-one was waiting on our return, clock-watching and insisting we ate before the Queen said her piece. And had the oven been accidentally switched off (as my mother did the other year when the wife and I nipped out to walk the dog), it would have been our fault. It hadn't, of course.
The lunch went without comment or criticism of the spread. We just pulled crackers, tucked in and enjoyed it. Afterwards there was no awkwardness as to what we were going to watch on the telly. The kids played happily on their new games console while I slumped in front of It's A Wonderful Life. A slight interruption to get the Christmas pudding ready broke my emotional flow and I didn't blub at the end as I usually do, but it was no big deal.
It was in the evening that I was most grateful for the 'just us' Christmas. Minimal washing-up and also we hadn't got through as much food as we thought we would do. I believe that when you've got fewer people around you stuffing their faces, you're not inclined to eat as much.
Kids were late to bed, but when the wife and I finally had the telly to ourselves, we enjoyed Michael McIntyre's Christmas Roadshow which I recommend every parent watches before it goes off the iPlayer. You'll never say the phrase 'so true' more meaningfully in your life.
So as I say, the best Christmas ever and I heartily suggest to any young family who have only just survived an over-populated home this holiday season to start planning for next year NOW.
Think up an excuse if you have to, pair lonely relatives into having their Christmas together and then batten down your hatches next December 25th.
OK so it isn't in keeping with the true meaning of the season and some of the magic of sharing may disappear, but believe me - you will not regret it!