Since it became clear that our plans for Christmas were going to have to change, we've been inundated with invitations.
On Christmas Eve, we went round for supper with some neighbours. The wife is Czech, and she served a delicious traditional Czech meal for us. We had a lovely evening, and then the husband came with us as we slithered and slid through the ice to Midnight Mass.
Yesterday we had two invitations, and we went with the one we received first. After opening our stockings and phoning our families in the morning, we walked up the hill to spend the rest of the day with some friends who live three streets up (and I mean UP) from us. Another couple of friends were there - in fact, it was all the members of our pub quiz team.
Our four-course meal was spread out over the afternoon - between the first course and the main, we slithered and slid (again) down the hill to the park to feed the ducks. The meal we had was delicious and not entirely traditional - not a turkey or a goose in sight. And how can you complain about Fortnum & Mason's Christmas crackers that, instead of a flimsy plastic toy, yield up a miniature bottle of booze? (Jeannie, mine was a little bottle of Amarula!)
In the evening, we played Trivial Pursuit, played a quiz game on their X-box and then watched a DVD. DH and I finally left at about 1:30 this morning. There was another deep frost, and even walking down the middle of the main road was hazardous, but we got home in one piece.
It was a wonderful day, and so totally different from any family Christmas celebration I've ever been involved in that I was able to forget the high expectations I usually have for Christmas and just enjoy the company, the food and the occasion.
Of course, there are reminders that stab at me and remind me of what I'm missing - the friend who by the end of yesterday had posted millions of photos on Facebook of his family Christmas with a status update announcing that he "continues to marvel how much more magical Christmas is once you get to share it with your own children", the running gag from the stand-up comedian on the DVD we watched last night about irresponsible parents, with the refrain "If you can't look after them, don't have them", the tiny little toddler footprints in the snow at the park - but the day was so much better than I was anticipating.
Today we have another invitation, but DH is not as sociable as I am and said last night that he doesn't want to go. We'll see...
And finally this morning there are signs that the snow and ice might be beginning to melt, and I'm hopeful that we'll make it to my SIL's tomorrow - and I'll cope with the family atmosphere, because it won't be Christmas Day.