It's not easy being a columnist at this time of year. During the year there are all sorts of news stories a columnist can have an opinion about but during the Christmas holidays, everything shuts down and there's very little to write about.
Can you write about New Year's resolutions, asked my editor. We've done a survey on resolutions and we'd like your piece to run alongside that. Of course, I said enthusiastically, because that's what you say to your boss, but inwardly I groaned. I've been writing a weekly newspaper column now for more than 15 years. That means 15 years of trying to find a new angle on Christmas and New Year.
I sat and stared at the computer for a very long time. Then I had a brainwave.
I could recycle old New Year stories, and you, the reader, would never know. In the post-Christmas food and alcohol coma so many of us drift into at this time of year, reading the newspaper becomes a passive enjoyment.
I doubt very much whether my every word sears itself into your consciousness even at the best of times. You would never remember what I'd written five years ago.
But then, I put my fingers back on to the keyboard and resolved to try harder. Plagiarism, even of one's self, is wrong. And it would be short-changing you, even if you didn't know.
My Catholic upbringing has left me with an overdeveloped sense of guilt.
But looking back at my old New Year's columns gave me an idea. I'd set some New Year's resolutions last year, something I don't normally do because it seems like a recipe for setting yourself up for failure.
But last year, I laid it on the line and made a list of good intentions. On some of them, I cheated a bit.
I resolved to publish a book and get married, both of which were in the pipeline, anyway.
Still, I can mark both of those resolutions as successful - I wasn't jilted at the altar and I thoroughly enjoy being a wife and my book turned out to be the second best selling New Zealand non-fiction book for 2013. I'm under Annabel Langbein and on top of Richie McCaw - a marvellous place for an old girl to be.
Apart from a couple of slip-ups, I managed to stick to my resolution to turn down speaking and MC-ing gigs and the year was all the better for it. I didn't miss travelling around the country, trussing myself up and standing centre stage one little bit.
Sadly, I'm going to have to put myself out there again in 2014 as I desperately want to visit my girl in London and the extra money will help get me there, but I am resolved to keep the speaking engagements to the bare minimum.
Speaking of bare, I started horse-riding lessons, as was my resolution last year, on a wonderful, gentle horse called Bear. That was going well, but I wouldn't say I learned to ride in 2013 as the lessons were suspended come winter and my five-week stint in Africa and Europe. I will resume them though as I still want to own my own horse one day, so I'll give myself half a tick for that resolution.
I've lost five kilos of the 10 I wanted to lose so again, half a tick.
My resolution to embrace my curly hair and forego the thrice-weekly trips to the hairdresser was mostly successful. I still need the assistance of a trained professional when I want to look my best but for the most part I have stayed away from the salon and let my hair resume its natural curly state. I still don't love the curl - I haven't embraced it fully - but my husband loves it when I go au naturel and he's the one I care about, so I count that as a success.
Given the overall success of my 2012 New Year resolutions, I've made a list for this New Year as well. Those extra five kilos will go; I'll learn to ride and care for a horse; I'll commit to my favourite charity; and I'll spend more time with the people I love. And perhaps the resolution my editor most wants to read - I resolve to get my column in on time.
Happy New Year to you all.
In a little Christmas miracle, the long-lost parcel I sent to my daughter in England turned up - out of the blue - on Christmas Eve. It had been interfered with, but the only thing missing was the lipstick and her card. Everything else - the goose down jacket, the possum and merino jersey, gloves and scarves, the Hairy Maclary book for the little boy she nannies for, her festive freak shoes - turned up on her doorstep.
So if Tricia, the lovely and helpful lady from New Zealand Post is reading this, don't worry about processing my insurance claim. I did tell Tricia I thought it was too soon to be claiming insurance, given how many stories I'd heard from people whose own parcels went missing for months.
However, she was adamant she wanted me to file a claim as it was officially considered lost. So all's well that ends well - but while my daughter and her husband are in London, I won't be sending parcels to them via the post again.