Back at work today with a serious case of the New Year blues, partly attributable to serious jet-lag (got back in to London yesterday afternoon).
I promised to post from California and I didn't, mainly because I was having too good a time and partly because I didn't go online AT ALL. Both reasons were brilliant and hopefully forgivable.
Top 10 reasons why 2007 was one of the best (and most meaningful) Christmases of all time:
1. It was incredibly bittersweet. Regular readers will know that this was because my grandma died on 1 December so it was a landmark Christmas for all the family. Granny loved Christmas and was really looking forward to seeing my girls - she met Firstborn when she was four months old and had not met the Small(er) One, so this felt incredibly sad but also made their meeting the rest of my family, and especially my grandad, very poignant.
2. It was the first Christmas spent with my American family for over 15 years - the last time I was in the US at Christmas I was a teenager. It felt great to come back as an adult.
3. It made me realise just how much I love my American family and how important it is for them to remain an active part of my life. It makes me sad that I did not act on this as much as I should have when my granny was alive - I thought that there would always be more time.
4. The trip made me realise just how much I love downtime, and conversely, how stressful our lives are in London. My BlackBerry was left in London and I didn't check my email once - not worrying about work felt amazing. This trip has made me long for a radical life change.
5. Alpha and I didn't argue at all (bar a few petty squabbles but that hardly counts).
6. I loved spending time with my girls and, most of all, loved watching them play with each other and get to know my American family.
7. I suddenly realised that my girls are total city kids. Firstborn especially is terrified of dogs, so watching her build up her courage around my aunt's dog (from hiding in the back bedroom and screaming every time she thought Jeannie was close by, to working her way to a tentative pat, to announcing that Jeannie was "the best dog in the whole wide world) made me very proud.
8. I feel lucky to have been born into my family as they are all incredible people in very individual ways. It also made me feel sad (and a little cross) that I didn't get the chance to grow up with them, my parents having made the choice to live in Europe for the duration of my childhood - not that this was a bad thing, just that I missed out on the sort of familiarity you only get by living close by and seeing people more than once every couple of years.
9. One of the highlights was driving along Route 101 and stopping at an almost deserted beach near Half Moon Bay; even though it was late December we just wore sweaters and woolly hats, the sun warm on our faces. The kids went wild, racing about and writing their names in the white sand with bits of driftwood, demanding piggy-back rides and being chased by Alpha as I took pictures. The memory of sound of the waves crashing on the beach, the kid's happy voices and the feel of the wind whipping our hair will stay with me for some time.
10. And finally, not sure if this is a meaningful reason but it certainly was enjoyable - the discovery of Judy's Donuts in Fresno, billed by my Dad as "the best doughnuts in the universe". He wasn't kidding.
Happy New Year!