They spent a couple of evenings sipping a warming brew, cutting card and groaning at lame jokes ("what do you call a three legged donkey? ... a wonky!").
They made nine of these ...
On the 24th they prepared the following day's feast, before setting off for the crib service, then drinks and delicious nibbles at the 'Fruit's' house. A jaunt down the road followed, for a traditional Slovakian meal with their dear friends. Bellies filled with homemade breads, garlic and honey, sauerkraut and sausage soups, fish, poppy seed cake and a digestif plum brandy or two.
Awake early next day. Little man's face shining with wonder and delight. Santa visited. He left not a single footprint, just a crumb of mince pie and an empty cup.
They visited family, and then family and friends came to them to share the feast. The bird en croute with all the trimmings, flaming fruity pudding, lots of bubbles, rich reds and sweet honeyed nectar.
As evening approached they talked and sang. Fires burning, orange bright, cosied, warmed.
Boxing Day was her birthday. VJ another year older, wiser (if only!). He treated her to a sumptuous breakfast in bed. They walked by the river and visited family for high tea and a game of cards (for pennies). She won.
The 27th rose slowly. Christmas sleeping. Dust taking the shine off baubles glitter. Birthday blues. Post festivity melancholy. She needed liberation from prodigal festivities, to jump off the Christmas merry-go-round. She wanted to be by the sea.
Little man sped along the esplanade on scooter. They walked briskly, cool air reaching inside and out, daggers tightening skin.
Leaden sky, thick molten sea, the pull of the shifting shore, swaying in time. A billion bubbles, pop and fade away to return seconds later. And again. Sitting awhile, happily silent, words in her head, quiet on her lips. The festal landslide in her head drifting away.
Picnic. The wrap of smooth rock protecting from the bite.
Giant creatures. Aslan hidden in the rock.
Two tiered beach huts.
Awaiting summer's return.
Grand, garlanded shelter.
Ready to head home. Light the fire. Make gingerbread men ... or aliens.
2012 is coming ... stay safe, healthy, happy and true.