... and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse ...
I don't know about your house, but most I know are rather noisy this week. Children are suffering from a toxic mix of exhaustion after a long term at school and pre-festive excitement. (I know one daughter has secret supply of chocolate for times like these - not for the children, but for herself! Good for her.) Adults are tackling the lists, of presents, and food ... and enough booze to get everyone through. Some are working and donning the Christmas jumpers to run the gauntlet of office parties. Some people love them ...
But for some this turning of the year is also a time of reflection. Politically it has been a turbulent year and many of us are deeply troubled at what might be coming. And it is impossible to ignore the millions who are suffering in wars and natural disasters - the world looks very unsafe at the moment and it can feel as if we have forgotten how to look after each other.
This dance between the frivolity of Christmas and the misery of our fellow men and women feels particularly poignant this year.
Which puts those of us who are writers in an impossible position. It is easy to join in the festive fun and pretend that the rest of the world is pottering along without a problem for a week or so. It is equally easy to drown in heartbreaking events taking place far away and ignore the joy of playing with those we love. We cannot, of course, get it right.
Maybe that's fine. These are times of great change and we cannot turn our heads in several directions at once without getting a serious headache.
And so I wish you all a peaceful holiday. I shall raise a glass to those who are near, and those who are far away. I'll be back in the New Year.
(It is also, possibly, a crazy time to launch The Planter's Daughter. Hey ho, that's when she was ready to fly.)