"And so that was Christmas ... and what have you done?"

War certainly isn't over ... but the battle over who gets the last mince pie has gone for another year.

I'm nostalgic ... I'm missing it already.

Still only another 363 restless sleeps to go.


Do they know it's Christmas in Africa?

We've been asking that question since 1984, and we still haven't had an answer. Perhaps they are better off not knowing; perhaps they don't know how lucky they are.

The rest of us get sucked into a maelstrom of frenzied madness and anxiety overload.

Still, there's no denying that Christmas has a special magic all its own.

It comes when you start to feel queasy after that second helping of Xmas pud, or when you've spent half an hour trying to find a parking space close to the Boxing Day sales. (Three-hour maximum at Whanganui's Trafalgar Square carpark yesterday — is that a first?).

Christmas comes but once a year — and you have to take part.

It's like being at a family wedding reception when some half-drunk, crazed relative tries to drag you on to the dance floor.

You can't really say 'No'; you can't be the spoilsport, the party pooper — even though every sinew in your body is screaming 'Get me out of here!'.


It's all a game and you have to be a good sport, pull on some forced jollity and accept your pummelling with a wistful smile on your face.

For me, the big challenge was cooking my first ever Christmas half-ham.

I prepared by seeking advice from the more culinary literate (three-and-a-half hours at 150 degrees; baste regularly) and, lo and behold — a Christmas miracle — it came out quite well.

The sausages were a bit burnt; the vegetables not that great and only two of the three teenagers in the house bothered to turn up, but I'm counting it a victory.

So the only issue now is: Is it too early to return the dodgy prezzies, or should I re-wrap them for someone's upcoming birthday?

... And are there any cheap flights to Africa next December?