Presents have started arriving. For the past 3 mornings, the overladen post woman has rung the bell, handed me a parcel and then vanished, juggling 10 more under her arms. When, looking through the window, I see her open up the back of the van, there are enough still in there to stock a defunct Debenhams.
Christmas is now a mere 22 days away and the Great Flurry has begun. Today's parcel included handmade soaps and alpaca socks, tiny wishes in bottles. Yesterday, a selection of nut butters was handed over with a sigh (it was a heavy box). Tomorrow, hopefully, hand poured candles, this poster and hot chocolate to make the winter bearable for my people.
I'm ordering as much as I can from small, independent suppliers but it is heavy on the postage charges. I'll order books from Bookshop.org and then I can't avoid heading out to the high street. Except, it's not the high street, but the one behind it where the sweetshop lurks next to the gallery, around the corner from the really good charity shop because my friend and I have a challenge - who can buy the most interesting/weird thing for each other for 4 whole English Pounds.
Up in the little side arcade, the wool shop is where I'll get beautiful yarn for winter projects to keep a couple of recipients busy (I also need some circular needles for me), and the no-plastic shop has cool water bottles and lunch boxes I can fill with tasty things for the Kid and his partner. The deli has amazing coffee in bags and herbal teas that actually taste good and not like pond water.
Back home via the lovely independent gift shop where I'll get things for my sister and sister in law; the plant shop just because.
Home to make: mince pies, autumn jumble jam, peppermint bark and gingerbread. Last year was the Year of Chutney which, although it was fun to make, I would bet a house on the fact it's still in people's cupboards, unopened. In fact, I know it is because I still have a jar of my mum's from 2 years ago. Unopened.
But nothing sweet is left unopened at Christmas. Out will come my collection of tubs, baskets and cardboard boxes stashed over the year, forming an ever more tottering tower in the small office. These now come into their own as Joy Boxes.
Everything is better in boxes. These are filled with those bakes and makes, cards, presents and other bits of nonsense I've collected over the year - cardboard punched into the shape of snowflakes or little pictures of trees made from washi tape, a scattering of jelly babies.
In Dad's honour, everyone gets a scattering of jelly babies this year. They were his favourite sweet.
This weekend, we are going to get ahead of the crowd and get the tree. N took me aback by insisting we got a tree. I'd been prepared for a battle as he's really not a Christmas man, but he mentioned it first, so I'm holding him to it. We'll leave it in the garden for a couple of weeks yet - right now is too early, it'll be brown and shedding by Christmas Eve if we bring it in now.
Then we need to leave it up for a week with no decorations as we fully anticipate a Tiny Wee Mabel incident. This will be her first Christmas with a tree. There will be shenanigans.
Of course, I write all this now. On a calm Thursday afternoon, in the slight state of delirium that comes from having had a heavy cold for a few days. Come the cold light of the 24th, I shall be screaming at a jam that won't set, a boyfriend that hasn't secured the tree properly and a me that put so much pressure on myself. Presents will still need to be wrapped and someone I've forgotten will deliver a card.
By midnight, I shall be 4 sherries to the bad, covered in flour and parcel tape, collapsed on the floor next to the tree, watching The Nightmare Before Christmas while the Kid and N throw jelly babies at me.
It's going to be Christmas.