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Notes From The Cotswolds – All I want for Christmas…. by Penny Parkes
2016/12/09  |  By:   |  Features  |  

I have a confession to make – none of the things I want this Christmas can be bought in a store or gift-wrapped under a tree (If you listen very carefully, you can almost hear the ever-tolerant Mr P heaving a sigh of relief). Having spent the best part of Autumn having a “jolly good clear-out”, I’m a little concerned about re-filling the space we’ve only just re-discovered.

Science is on my side – all sorts of clever boffins at universities around the world have proven repeatedly that experiences make us happier than possessions. So, rather than schlepping my way around increasingly busy shops, I have plans:

Forget the Twelve Days of Christmas; I have every intention of savouring the Five Senses Of Christmas this year.

db292b96e37cfc8dba625378274fc7a8I’ll start with the box of tree ornaments that has steadily grown over the last twenty years – every year a new addition lovingly chosen: on a trip, a special day out or simply (as last year with the mini Moomins) because it speaks to one of us. And though the kids roll their eyes as each story is trotted out for nostalgia as we decorate the tree, it’s a tradition that endures and God help me if I skip a few in haste.

I’ll be asking Santa for a frosty walk across the fields with the family, under clear skies and with the added thrill of watching our new puppy – The Ginger Ninja – discovering her first excited sniff of winter and the clarity of smells on a chilly morning. Even the numbness of cold fingers gives the promise of a warm mug to defrost them when we tumble home, pink cheeked and exhausted (traditionally minus at least one glove and with at least one child in a grump, but we’ll gloss over that because it’s Christmas!)

I’m hoping that my little muppets aren’t too grown-up yet to scoff the gingerbread dough as quickly as we can make it, and before it’s even baked, the scents and tastes taking me back in a heartbeat to their excited toddler squeals of delight and anticipation, and I secretly quite like the fact that Instagram has renewed their love of a photogenic bake!

Please let there still be scurrying feet along the landing, as they try (and fail!) to be subtle in their quest to interrupt me when I have sellotape and tissue paper in hand, locked away in my bedroom for some last-minute gift-wrapping, piecing together three different designs for that one awkward present that refuses to submit.

And top of my wish list is that Christmas lunch will be prepared – thank heaven – by Mr P, who is seemingly unfazed by having seventeen different saucepans on the go. Sadly I myself can no longer be trusted to wrestle the enormous bird into the oven, since the year I slept through the alarm and lunch wasn’t actually served until it was dark outside – but to be honest, I’m calling this a win. Bad wife – shocking, really.

So, having decided to take a very simple approach to Christmas, I’m already far more relaxed than I normally would be at this exhausting festive time of year. There are to be tickets under the tree for the family – concerts, flights, trains – all with a promise of memories yet to be made. Stockings will of course be stuffed to the brim with delicious treats, escapist novels and bits’n’bobs from Santa, so I feel we have that covered.

And for my ever-expanding list of lovely people to shop for – well in short, if you’re not into books, booze or chocolate (& why on earth wouldn’t you be?), you’re going to be very disappointed by my minimalist shopping efforts this year!

Happy Christmas one and all – I hope all your Christmas wishes come true. Pxxx


Out of Practice by Penny Parkes is out now, Swept Away (an eBook short story) is out in February and Practice Makes Perfect, the brand new full length novel is out in June 2017!