Your poor correspondent has been rather fraught since she came back from Poland. ("My eyes! My eyes!") Many things have been hanging over my head, including the dreaded Amazon Christmas shop. One year I bought all the family presents in Edinburgh, wrapped them lovingly, packed them in a box---and discovered that sending them by Royal Mail cost half their collective price . Since then, I have bought Christmas presents for overseas via Amazon---which is enormously stressful as each and every Amazon gift has its own "estimated delivery time", and as there are limited goods available, it is not as simple as finding something nice on a shelf and buying it. Meanwhile, my faith in Amazon's speed disintegrated in October when I was purchasing books for All Saints Day.
Because buying things on Amazon causes me so much mental anguish, this year I flogged B.A, into it. Sadly B.A. is just as much of a procrastinator as I am, so it was only yesterday that B.A. logged onto Amazon and discovered we were Too Late. We were not being promised delivery-by-Christmas unless we signed up for Amazon Prime, and Amazon was very hedgy about how much this cost. And so we made the decision to buy one big General Family Present and defer "personal gifts" until Candlemas, when I will bring them myself.
Then we went to the post office with a large handful of Christmas cards and to the cathedral for Confession.
I went to Confession soon after I came back from Poland, and since then I have been too busy to notice my sins, so instead I prayed over my Christmas Present Fail. On the one hand, the children will get so much stuff on Christmas Day, they won't miss our presents, and getting a present in early February will be a nice treat in the holiday desert between Christmas and Valentine's Day. But on the other hand, my parents and brothers and sisters have got it together to send us stuff on time. The General Family Present may smack a bit too much of desperation and not enough of thought. What to do?
When thinking about what my parents would most like for Christmas, I thought they might best like Mark and me to be there. This is impossible, alas, so it occurred to me that the next best thing would be to entertain them by blog. My dad enjoys reading my stories about our family, so for the last week of Advent, I will pull out my diaries and write about past family Christmases. I didn't start keeping a diary until I was almost 8, so I may be a bit vague about the earliest ones.
After I made this resolution and B.A. finished his penance, we bought a lottery ticket and went to the Edinburgh Christmas Market. It was about 4 in the afternoon, so it was very dark. It was also cold but not unpleasantly so. The Christmas Market, which now stretches the length and breadth of the Princes Street Gardens, was packed with people, booths and fairy lights. It was truly breathtaking, and B.A. was intent on eating the over-priced German street food, so we really got into the spirit of the thing.
B.A. had a pork steak on a bun (I had a bratwurst) and bought two lots of fried potatoes with bacon, and then rushed off to another stall to get a beer (and a gluhwein for me), and after that insisted on going to the German doughnut stand. There we had freshly fried doughnuts--crunchy on the outside, soft and almost creamy on the inside--and I discovered that all my angst and worries had been chased away by Christmas Spirit.
But now I must get ready for Fourth Sunday in Advent Mass. If I have time, I will update to tell you more about this amusing Edinburgh Christmas Market.
Update: The Edinburgh Christmas Market has a two storey structure, entirely covered in white fairy lights, called "The Bothy Bar." We went in after we eat our doughnuts to see what it was like. It was like a chalet, really, only full of young couples drinking Christmas-themed cocktails. None of them had children, and it occurred to me that this is the sort of thing couples without children do.