I've been in Scotland for the last few days, and have, happily, largely managed to avoid the dispiriting experience of "the shops" before Christmas - except on Christmas Eve, unfortunately, where other feckless no-hopers who haven't, smugly, completed their shopping four years ago, roam like the Day of the Dead around John Lewis picking up gift sets. So much pressure, so little pleasure!
The high point for me was a walk along the beach at Gullane on Christmas Day in the sunshine, with a clear cold blue sky high above, pristine sand, and hardly anyone else around. In previous years I've been bent double walking along the same beach in high winds with a sandblaster etching at my face; but this year it was perfect.
Other small pleasures: biting the head off a chocolate Santa at 8am; shiny patent forties-style lace-ups going cheap in the Jenners sale; my sister's home made almond croissants; driving the enormous van we were given at Edinburgh airport ("Ah've given ye an upgrade to a bigger size for yer comfort", the woman behind the counter said mysteriously) at breakneck speed down country lanes; and watching The Big Sleep, with fish and chips and a few glasses of shiraz, curled up on my sister's couch on Boxing Day.