The last blog post of 2022 is just a quick one to wish a very happy Christmas to our customers, followers, authors and friends. Thank you for all your valuable support this year.

Here’s hoping your festive deliveries have arrived safely and that you’re not still waiting for some last minute fragile parcel to be hauled unceremoniously from a van at 10 p.m. by a frazzled delivery driver under extreme pressure! Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to take a break from work either – so a big thank you to everyone who will be beavering away to provide essential services over the holidays. This time of year means different things to different people of course, but to me it means I get some quiet time to read. It should mean some extra time to write as well . . . fingers crossed.

2022 has been a tumultuous year for so many reasons – which I don’t think I need to remind you of by providing a depressing checklist. Life can be overwhelming, and we all need coping strategies. Sometimes the only way to get through it is to temporarily ignore the things you can’t control, and to set limits on your perceived obligations.

However, I’m only too aware that it’s easier said than done to say no! The things I really resent doing usually involve being asked to work for free, so that’s the place where I need to re-establish limits. (To whom it may concern: kindly note that the bottle of cheap wine which Aunt Sybil gave you last Christmas is not acceptable as a substitute for ready money.)

I’ll stop moaning now, but my whinge was really meant as a quick reminder that you need to make time for the good stuff. You can’t look out for other people effectively unless you take care of yourself first – remember the in-flight safety advice regarding oxygen masks!

So, to books. Which new books have you enjoyed the most this year? I think my favourite two have been Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan and Trespasses by Louise Kennedy. Small Things is a quietly powerful and haunting story set in a small Irish town in the 1980s, and Trespasses is Kennedy’s debut novel, set in Northern Ireland in the 70s. It is tender, brutal, and heartbreaking. Reader, I cried. I also really enjoyed Kim Moore’s poetry collection – All the Men I Never Married – which deservedly won the Forward Prize – bold, vivid and frank.

The holiday plans at McFish Towers will definitely involve a break with tradition this year – in other words, we won’t be going out for a curry on Christmas Day.

We will however be going for our regular New Year’s Eve meal at the local Italian. It’s only a few hundred yards away from our house, so even a Beast From the East can’t stop us from getting there!

Speaking of the new year, do any of you have big plans to change things? I never make resolutions, but I am always conscious of striving to be more like my late dad – to be kind in an unkind world, and to be grateful for the good stuff, however small. (And of course it would be nice if 2023 also turned out to be the year in which I wrote a work of literary genius which then went on to become a bestseller!)

Before I go… here’s my favourite homemade Christmas card ever – made by a friend’s son many years ago, and now in permanent year-round residence on our fridge  🙂

Happy Christmas everyone – see you on the other side!

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