How do you know when it's Christmas? Do you measure it from when you buy the first present, eat the first mince pie, hear the first corny Christmas song on the radio, see the first window on your Advent calendar?
The modern world has given us so many different ways to measure when Christmas begins for us. Whether you're religious or not, whether you buy into the whole thing or whether you detest it merely as a formality, there's no denying the whole world has been counting down to the day that begins in only an hour. We've been measuring that time in hours, in shopping days, in small chocolate shapes and in days left of work.
But for me, Christmas really begins when I am home with my family. Christmas is a family holiday, about the joining and completion of the most unconventional of families, and what better way to feel it in your heart than when you're home with your own? When I went to a carol service earlier, and got to lift my decidedly below par voice in song and worship with my parents and grandfather, it felt like Christmas, and it felt like home.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. Cram the next few precious days full of carols, cheesy songs, good food, presents and great company as you can, before it's all over.
(And for me, my family includes my adorable rat Dug, who is not great at posing for photos, but is more than willing to indulge in festive biting and eating.)