Christmas has been a rather stressful event this year.
Originally it was going to be the entire family, all gathered around for the first time in years (if not decades!). I have three sisters, and we were all going to meet up in North Wales - all the extended family, partners, husbands and wives, along with the kids would get together and meet up and be at the same place at the same time for the first time.
Then as the big day got closer, things started to fall apart.
One sister - who works in a care home - got called into work on Xmas Day. Another - who lives out in Ireland - couldn't get over this year (despite me offering to have the flights paid for, using the matched betting scam). Then the other couldn't make it because of family commitments on her husband's side.
Despite this, I'd already started out for the mountains, and was determined to deliver my vanful of gifts. Xmas Eve, I had a breakdown (apparently a weak battery with a damaged cell can get overcooked by a 350-mile drive journey). So at 4pm on Xmas Eve, just as all the shops were closing, the roads were emptying and everyone headed home, it looked like I was going to have to abandon my big old ugly Transit van some 50 miles from where I was staying and I'd spend the rest of the evening trying to get back; Steve Martin and John Candy from Planes Trains and Automobiles sprang to mind on more than one occasion! The best I could have hoped for was to find a warm bed to sleep in, and to spend Christmas Day watching Songs of Praise and The Snowman in a TravelLodge/Premier Inn.
Then - like some really bad Christmas plot-line from the cheesiest of UK soap operas (let's say Doctors) - the breakdown recovery guy went above and beyond all duty. Not only did he get us up and running again (although, to be honest, this involved nothing more than a bump-start off the back of his truck) but insisted we followed him back to his yard, he opened up the workshop (complete with oil-stained Xmas lights and two rather sad looking strings of tinsel), spent an hour or more diagnosing the fault and fixed us up so it wouldn't happen again. We were mobile again for the big day!
Xmas Day was - of course - amazing.
We tore up and down the A55 along the North Wales coast, visiting family, ate too much, exchanged presents. And generally agreed that - like a really bad Yuletide movie - it'd been worth it all in the long run and that the true spirit of Christmas was not in the buying and wrapping of presents, but in having a hellish journey 48 hours before, to arrive just in time to see friends and family on the big day.
So Christmas was a triumph.
And - like all those corny 80s re-runs showing on the Xmas24 digital channel - while all this was going on, somewhere - perhaps even on the other side of the world (although it might have been in the North Pole) some crazy Christmas Elves were busy working their magic to see that we (or at least, I) would be rewarded for all our endeavours.
After what eventually turned out to be a great day, just before retiring to bed, I checked my emails.
And there was the best Christmas present of all (sorry, Dave, it even beat your Minions socks from Poundland that were slightly too tight a fit) - an email from none other than Brett Papa, saying I'd won the Papastache Kitchen Sink Bundle!
For all kinds of reasons, this year was a great Christmas!