Someone asked me the other day if I'm ready for Christmas. It's three weeks away, I said.
So are you packed ready to go to Cuba? That's five weeks away, I said.
Even from here, I can detect a collective intake of breath. How can I be so casual? There will be no cards/balloons/tinsel left in the shops if I leave it one more day to buy them. What if I there are no mince pies left on Christmas Eve - and they speak as if the world will fall in for want of a mince pie. (I have no children sleeping in my house on Christmas Eve - I accept the possibility of the world ending in a home dependent on a mince pie for Santa.)
You must have lists, they tell me. Well, I have sort of lists - in my head. I know roughly what I need to think about when the time comes. Who needs presents, who needs to be fed and when, where I might be going and do I have a frock? (Yes, the same frock that has come out every Christmas for years. But you probably guessed I'm not into frocks.)
I'm not sure there's clear water between planners and last-minuters - between those who finish their shopping in September and others who do it all on Christmas Eve. Over the next three weeks I'll gather what I need, when I have time to think about it - for it does take thinking. I don't fall in with the panic-at-the-last-minute brigade. Neither do I spend four months preparing for what is, essentially, one day. I think there is a planning continuum, with the September shoppers at one end and last-minuters at the other and every range of planning pattern in between. And, while I sit towards the Christmas Eve end, I do leave myself time to think. For it is a day that needs thinking.
And Cuba - surely you're planning Cuba? Ah, Cuba. I'll talk about Cuba another time.
Meanwhile, I might make a list. And you - where do you sit on the planning continuum?