I cannot quite believe yesterday was Boxing Day: as far as I am concerned, it never felt like the past few weeks were leading up to Christmas. I have had the occasional mince pie and come across a few carollers, but not much beyond that. I am not religious, I do not have family members who are religious or for whom I need to agonize over presents, and I do not have a big family gathering, so the liturgical, commercial, and familial aspects of Christmas have not greatly affected me, but it has been thus for a number of years. So why has it not felt like Christmas?
In short, I blame the weather. Christmas is strongly associated in my mind with winter. I expect the nights to be not only dark and long, but also cold. It has been unseasonably warm and unreasonably wet this year as evidenced by the floods in Cumbria, Lancashire, and Yorkshire, feeling more like an autumn on steroids: I have not had to switch on the heating for most of December, not even in the mornings and evenings. Incidentally, as Christmas equals winter in my mind, I doubt I would be able to cope mentally with being somewhere warm – be it somewhere sunny on the beach or in the southern hemisphere – during the festive season. So if anyone wishes to torture me mentally, that person only needs to put me somewhere nice and warm over the Christmas period.