Christmas plans and traditions

79

Well this is my view tonight! Yay! I finally got the tree up and decorated!

I had been planning to do it over the weekend, but managed to put my back out and was struggling with a rotten head cold, so even if I’d have been able to reach up and put the decorations on the tree, every time I sneezed, there would have been a massive needle drop!

I know, from reading your comments last week, that many of you have fallen foul of this nasty bug, and so I hope you’re now completely better and able to look forward to Christmas. Talking of which, I was reading back over my blogs from the last four years or more, and my tree always seems to look the same, but then I am a bit of a traditionalist.

I know we all seem to be saying that Christmas has crept up on us this year, and I think maybe it’s because we had such a lovely late summer and, for me, the surprise visit from my brother at the end of September.

This Christmas won’t be quite the same as the last three, as many of our children have other plans or prior engagements, so our party on the 24th will be just Sam, Jack, Colin and I – but I’ve already organised the meal and games!

We’ve booked ahead with the rest of the family, and will have a slightly delayed (but much anticipated) get-together on the 30th December instead. Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Honey, and we will be heading up the M4 on Christmas morning to spend the day with Lucy Simon and my little treasure.

honey-feather-boa honey

Here she is in her Christmas party outfit at her Diddi Dancing class, looking sensational in her red feather boa!

Not only did she look beautiful, but her dancing skills would have challenged even Louise Redknapp… well, maybe…!

We’ll see Henry and George with Simon’s parents on Boxing Day, which I’m very much looking forward to, and am hoping for a re-run of last years monumental game of charades. Henry won, having made us guess his fictional literary work, ‘The Beard that Lied’ – it was hilarious!

the-bookTalking of books, I saw this in W H Smiths yesterday, and it made me hoot! Not the book itself, but the sticker – and I thought monogamy was sacred!

We’ll be driving in the opposite direction on the 27th to spend the day with my mum, Joe, Jenny and Linda, and mum’s already organizing the food! She’s always been great at planning ahead and, even when we were living on a shoe string, she managed to make the smallest of turkeys go a very long way!

Christmas is one of those times when many of us find ourselves reminiscing… Considering some mornings I can’t even remember my own name, I have a particularly sharp recollection of this ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and the weird and wonderful traditions that make it special to me.

Christmas began in November for us, when I was a child, when mum would scrub out the washing up bowl so she could mix the Christmas cake in it! A mighty great round of fruity fabulousness, with bright yellow marzipan, and icing so hard you’d break your teeth on it!

She always used something called a blue bag to make the royal icing whiter, and I remember one year it was closer to sapphire than a whiter shade of pale.

We always had a Mrs Peeks Christmas pudding, and she’d hide a single sixpence in it just before she served it up. I seem to remember that Jenny, Peter and I all got one, so she performed a little bit of mum magic there.

One year she invited not just her own parents, but my dad’s parents too, and as a treat for them (I’m not sure they felt it was!) we three children performed a nativity play. She still has the recording of it somewhere, which was taped on the old reel to reel machine we had. It was positioned behind the sofa, so you couldn’t really hear us that well, but our grandparents words of encouragement, and my father’s laughter make a marvellous soundtrack.

As there were only three of us, the production required multiple costume changes, and the memorizing of an enormous amount of script! I remember I was one of the three kings (handy there were three of us!) and mum taught us the carol ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’. My verse was quite dark… “Myrrh is mine, it’s bitter perfume, breathes a life of gathering gloom, sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone cold tomb” – ever the drama Queen me.

I can still remember the overwhelming excitement on Christmas Eve making it impossible to sleep, and my constant trips into the room my Nanny Timms was staying in to ask her if it was time to get up yet. Her teeth were in a glass on the bedside table and so to be fair, her response was a little difficult to understand, but it didn’t stop me trying. Eventually, morning came, and we all had stockings, – well, one of my dad’s socks – complete with little gifts, and a Satsuma jammed into the toe. It always took my dad ages to get up, and so we’d be waiting on the landing for him while mum went downstairs to put the three bar fire on (the real fire was only lit in the afternoon) to see what Father Christmas had left us.

Our family tradition was for the presents to be left in nominated piles, so we each had a corner of the sofa and one of the armchairs as our unwrapping stations! One of my best presents ever was a large plastic doll with movable limbs, that I named Alice. She had long auburn hair and my Nanny had knitted her a yellow jumper and tights, and a brown skirt to wear. My sister had been bought a pushchair for her teddy, but she decided she didn’t want that, she wanted Alice. She was only four at the time, but very insistent.

“I didn’t want a pushchair, I wanted a doll!”

It became her mantra, and when she tried to take Alice from me, I clung on for grim death. Unfortunately Alice’s leg came off in the struggle, and although my dad glued it back on with Araldite, it no longer moved, remaining at a rather jaunty angle, which made it almost impossible for me to get her tights on and off! I did forgive her a few years later…!

Seriously, those memories make Christmas for me, although they are bittersweet, with so many of our family members no longer with us. I realise that’s the same for many of you, and I know that this year has been particularly hard for some, as like us, you have lost friends and family. I hope that your special memories of them will be a comfort to you this Christmas and that you won’t be on your own or lonely. Remember, you can always keep in touch here on the blog, and I promise I’ll write back to you.

Something else I did promise was to share the photos of my girls weekend away, specifically our fancy dress competition!

with-the-girlswith-the-girls-after

Not a bad line up, eh?

Sue looking uncannily like Dame Edna, Suzanne brilliantly disguised as Miss Marple (not Aunt Bessie – as my Lucy suggested!), Julie was a dead ringer for Tina Turner, and I borrowed Vicky’s wig to be Amy Winehouse!

Diane captivated us all  and dressed as Darcey Bussell (complete with tutu), although I don’t have a photo of her, and Deb was Agnetha from Abba – but she managed to also avoid being photographed in her orange wig and bright blue eyeshadow!

It was a hoot, and we remained in character to watch Strictly, although we were all a little hot under the collar having watched Danny and Oti’s salsa! If that had been the final, he’d certainly have got our vote!

As we approach the final week of shopping days before Christmas here at the Q, I wanted to alert you to a couple of treats you won’t want to miss!

I have a whole hour of Clogau jewellery at 11pm this Sunday, with some stunning pieces featuring the rare and royal rose gold. My final Diamonique show before the big day is on the 22nd and, although we won’t be able to guarantee getting the jewellery to you before Christmas, if you’re buying for a New Year’s party, then I have plenty of sparkle!

I’d have been lost without my Kipling Today’s Special Value this last week while I’ve been out and about Christmas shopping.

kipling-bag

I was amazed at how much I was able to cram into this fabulous tote bag, which comes complete with a cross body strap, and separate wallet. I particularly liked the quilted finish – very chic! I’ll be with Marie-Francoise Woolf on Tuesday the 20th and you can see all the other colours and the size of it then.

My final show is at midnight on the 23rd December, when I’ll be joined by Christopher Fink. If you’re not familiar with his fabulous fashion then give yourself a treat and join us for what I know is going to be a busy hour.

I’ll be back with Diamonique on the 29th December, and am delighted to be welcoming the New Year in with you, and introducing you to a game changing kitchen gift from Panasonic. I hope you can join me as we count out of 2016 and into 2017.

All that remains for me to do now is to wish you a truly happy Christmas, and to hope that you will spend it with those who mean the most to you. Hold onto your memories, and enjoy making new ones, and may this New Year bring you good health and much happiness. Thank you so much for supporting the blog, for sharing your lives with me, and for all your kindness and caring. It means the world to me.

With my love,

Ali x

79 Comments

  1. Gwen December 19, 2016 at 6:18 pm -  Reply

    Hello dear Ali,

    What a really wonderful blog, you have covered so many different memories of yours which I have to say really are so very similar to some of mine, especially my childhood Christmases, I was an only child and so very spoilt, in a nice way of course, but even to this day I swear that I heard Santa’s sleigh and the reindeer on our roof!!!! and then thr magical time when my mother lit the fire in the best room in the house which really was only used on high days and holidays, and there would be nuts sweets and Christmas crackers on display, Oh goodness the excitement and anticipation, such magical memories.

    I love little Honey dancing, how she has grown and what a pretty age isn’t she? I do hope that you have a very Happy Christmas and Healthy New Year, and I thank you so much for sharing your life with us, it really does bring a lot of cheer.

    Looking forward to hearing all about your Christmas in the New Year

    Love to you and your wonderful family

    Gwen.X.

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 10:55 am -  Reply

      Dear Gwen, It does very much as tho you and I had similar childhoods – do you remember the Eat Me Dates? I loved those, but they were a treat at 11 shillings 🙂 So glad you have enjoyed the blog this year, and I hope that you will stay with me for 2017. I will enjoy sharing my life with you and equally it is a real honour that you share yours with me. I hope you have a very happy Christmas and an excellent new year. With my love, Ali xx

  2. valerie blake December 19, 2016 at 7:08 pm -  Reply

    dear alison i alwys enjoy reading your blog but do not very often leave a message, today is different my husband has just been diagnosed with bladder cancer,we are all trying to think straight but as a family we will be strong and get through this.sorry to write this but i felt you would understand, christmas will be special we have a beautiful inspiring 6 yr old grandaughter maisie who is the light of our life.
    thankyou merry christmas
    valerie

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 10:58 am -  Reply

      My dear Valerie I was so terribly sorry to hear from you today, and to learn of the news you’ve just been given. I completely understand the sense of bewilderment and shock that you must all be feeling, but I thought it was so positive that you fellt able to mention your little granddaughter Maisie. And you are right, she is your inspiration and the light of your lives. I am sure the medical professionals will do all they can to set a course of treatment in place, and if it is any comfort, Colin’s mother was diagnosed over 20 years ago with this condition, and is still with us and well. I hope that you will get to Christmas and the New Year will bring better news for you. Sending you a hug and lots of love, Ali xx

  3. Yvonne December 19, 2016 at 7:57 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison, hope you and all your family have a lovely Christmas and a very happy and healthy 2017 xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 10:58 am -  Reply

      And I wish the same for you. Thank you for writing on the blog, and every happiness in 2017. Love Ali xx

  4. Linda Finch,, December 19, 2016 at 8:42 pm -  Reply

    Hi,Ali , really enjoyed your blog as always, Honey is a little star ,a budding dancer if I ever saw one. Your memories of Christmas as a child made me chukle and also jogged my memory of one of my dolls I had one christmas, it was a porcelain one with long golden hair stuck to her head which you couldn’t comb no matter how I tried cos everytime I did ended up with more hair in the brush or Comb, she came fully dressed in a beautiful dress and a red cape ( very festive ) with matching hat,shoes and muff trimed with imitation fur ,she was bought from one of my favourite aunties& uncles who not having children of their own, and me being an only child did get rather spoilt as you can imagine, to make her even more special my mum knitted lots of outfits for her,consisting of leggings, jackets, dresses ,cardies, jumpers and boots . Another doll I had was a bride doll I had seen in one of muMs magazine’s my grandad sent for it (don’t know how but 2 arrived ) and I still havery one to this day still in mint condition in the box never played with ,on the box I had written in my childish writing the name Penny ,oh happy memories .well this year as always we will be spending Christmas day with SiMon, Michelle and Harry and Ellie, then after that we havent planed anything, but iam sure we won’t be on our own for long, in the past we have had a day at the coast to blow the cobwebs away, usually joined by Harry and Ellie .well I hope you and Colin have a fantastic time ❤ and manage to get a little rest ,lots of love for a very happy Christmas , Linda F xx❤❤

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:00 am -  Reply

      Dear Linda thank you so much for writing to me, I loved reading about your dog, and then your matching brides dolls arrived! It’s wonderful that you have kept one of these as the water toys change so much, and our grandchildren probably won’t recognise the way things used to be made. So glad that you will be spending Christmas Day with Simon and Michelle, Harry and Ellie. I envy you being close to the coast though – a walk with a sea breeze after lunch must be lovely. Have a very happy Christmas, and please do keep in touch in the New Year, with love, Ali xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:01 am -  Reply

      That should have read DOLL not DOG! Ooops… Thanks again though Linda. love ALi xx

  5. Pat Shearwood December 19, 2016 at 9:19 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, I loved reading your recent blog about Christmas memories. The icing on your Mom’s Christmas cake reminded me very much of my own Mom’s cake. My Son loved her icing and I’ve tried to replicate it but never managed it. I want to do this for nostalgia and my Son so I wondered if you could find out the secret to creating teeth breaking icing please!
    In anticipation… Pat x

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:08 am -  Reply

      Pat I am laughing out loud at this, and will definitely try and find out what it was. I think possibly not enough glycerine?? Will be back in touch asap. Love Ali xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:22 am -  Reply

      Hi there Pat, mum just texted me and said she thought it was because she had too much icing sugar compare to the amount of egg white! Also she kept the cake always for far too long! Good luck! 🙂 xx

  6. pamela Richards December 20, 2016 at 4:06 am -  Reply

    Wonderful story from your Christmas past it reminded me of my own , Sad to say Samuel(My big Brother is not with us any more) But like everyone as one gets older we loose more people we love. Life is like Advent a complete circle in Church on Christmas Eve my 2 Granddaughters age 5.5 Sophie and Nyla 1.4 are singing Mary we have 7 children at the max! In myself & Gloria Sunday School which we run along side our Church if on a Sunday we are about 20 ha-ha that includes our Vicar !!! but we are full to the door we have a candlelit Service & Joy it makes Christmas very special every year! So A very Merry Christmas to you and your Family and have a little me time to recharge enjoy seeing you and all the Q.V.C presenters on T.V so keep well xx Pamela

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:10 am -  Reply

      Dear Pamela, how lovely to hear of your family, with so many children and grandchildren! Christmas will certainly be busy for you this year! Your church services sound delightful too, and so good that you as a family all get together to celebrate. I wish you all a truly happy Christmas, and every good wish for 2017. With Love, Ali xx

  7. Loraine Plumb December 20, 2016 at 7:12 am -  Reply

    Hi Alison just a quick line to wish you all a merry Xmas glad you are feeling better I had the cold which lasted 3 weeks then a bug lost my voice and last but not least a chest infection so ive had my fair share we are all looking forward to xmas with baby willa at Clare and Geoff’s anyway best wishes for 2017 and good health to you and yours love Loraine xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:11 am -  Reply

      Loraine, I am so sorry to hear that you too have been poorly. I very much hope that the chest infection has now gone and that you will be able to enjoy your time with Clare and Geoff’s with baby Willa. Have a lovely Christmas, and thank you for keeping in touch with me this year. Here’s to a happy 2017! With love Ali xx

  8. Una December 20, 2016 at 7:55 am -  Reply

    Morning Alison
    Writing this, sat at Melis bedside. She’s been a bit poorly these last few weeks. Started off with a little tummy bug,, which practically the entire class had. She recovered from that, only to end up with a cold, followed quickly by a horrid chest infection. She was in hospital for 10 days. Meli being Meli, she bounced back, but at the weekend, she started to get breathless again. She’s in purely as a precaution right now, as they can’t seem to confirm what the problem is. It’s looking like the chest infection has returned, and she is being blasted with antibiotics. Poor wee mite. She was doing SO well.
    Hoping we get good news this afternoon when we get more results back.
    We had so many plans for this week, and she was very excited to go to the airport this coming Thursday , to meet Graeme when he gets back to the UK permanently. Even if she is discharged, I wouldn’t feel happy about taking her to such a crowded place, where so many other bugs and viruses may be rummaging around!!
    Honey is just so adorable, I bet she is excited about Xmas this year. She would have been too little to know what was going on last year. She can’t half rock that feather boa lol. I’m thinking little Cala Lily will be spoiled just a little bit too!
    Everyone starting to wake up on the ward here. I will leave you for now, and wish you and Colin and the family our very best wishes for the festive season. I hope Santa is good to you. Have a fantastic time, and safe travels as you scoot around visiting everyone.
    Lots of love
    Una & Meli.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.
    XX

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:07 am -  Reply

      My dear Una, I’m so sorry to learn that Meli is poorly and in hospital. Poor little scrap as you say, and I know how this must be making you feel too. I haven’t read further down the page, so you may have replied, but I do hope that the results when they came through will just confirm that she needs more antibiotics and rest and that she can be home with you for Christmas. As I write this, you may well be on your way to the airport to meet Graham. I am so glad that he is going to be with you to help and support you, and to have some special time with you and Meli. Such a shame she couldn’t be with you to meet him, but maybe a little grown up time together will do you good. Please do let me and everyone else here on the blog how you are all getting on, and I hope that Mel will be up and about by the time we reach Christmas Eve. I pray that this New Year will be one that sees Meli well, and you and Graham spending more time together. Mostly, I hope it will be a year that brings you your long deserved happy place. Take care Una, and I’m so glad you are still enjoying and contributing to the blog. It means a great deal. With love, Ali xx

  9. Joanna Downey December 20, 2016 at 10:20 am -  Reply

    Hello Ali, You’ve really made me laugh this morning with your tales of a decidedly blue christmas cake, your nanny without her teeth and poor afflicted Alice – I absolutely love this season and it’s memories like those that are priceless because to be honest most of us, however much we may aspire to have one, don’t achieve a designer “Best Christmas ever”. Alice’s story reminded me of my beloved Tiny Tears who had the misfortune to be drawn on by the girl next door; mum scrubbed at the tattooed scrawl with “Vim” and this resulted in the vinyl taking on a seasick green hue, poor doll was known as sickly Jane after that and I’m ashamed to say I never really felt the same about her… You’ve been your busy self and it sounds as though the holiday will also involve a fair amount of travelling, I suppose it’s like that for most of us as children fly the nest and their network of new family and friends has to be taken into account when arranging even the most simple meet up. Gorgeous Honey will obviously be dancing through the holiday, I’m very impressed that at 19 months she can spot when dancing – definitely a Darcey in the making. As I’ve written before I do Christmas as a project and thought that I’d finished spending until my sister suggested a trip to York – we’re both Yorkists at heart and have stayed in that glorious city many times. We left very early on Saturday 10th and were having breakfast in Bettys before 10 o’clock. She’d told me that there was a newly opened German Christmas shop in Stonegate but neither of us expected it to be so magical, it was a perfect day and may well become a new holiday tradition, life has been particularly difficult for her recently and seeing her laugh was wonderful. I know that many do the look back over the year and for us I’d call 2016 the messy year. Obviously many well known and well-loved people have left us this year and there has been much political upheaval but my twelve months have been spent moving stuff from one room to another and living surrounded by things not where they should be. It started in the spring when we had to have a new central heating system installed followed by Ellie and Dave’s much delayed house move and now we’ve changed from carpet to laminate in our sitting room. I never thought that this fairly simple activity would involve three rooms, bizarrely make it appear that we have acquired more furniture and fray tempers. It has to be sorted today and so I’ll sign off with a hope that Alpa and Debz write back soon and wishing you and all those you love a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year. Reading your blog is a joy and we all think the world of you. Love from Jo

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:20 am -  Reply

      My dear Jo, as always great to hear from you, and I love your story of sickly Jane! I remember Vim, and Ajax, but that tended to leave more of a blue hue! So glad you enjoyed the film of Honey dancing, it makes me smile every time I see it, and I have a photograph of her in her feathers on my desk at work 🙂 Your trip to York with your sister sounded wonderful. So glad that you had some time together and more importantly, that you’ve both made memories that will no doubt make her happy through what has been a difficult time. Great idea to do the same next year – my sister and I have been saying we’d do something like this for years but never seem to get round to it! Sounds as though you’ve been having a rather stressful time with all your house changes! Here’s hoping you did manage to get it sorted so that you can enjoy Christmas. Una has written, and I’m hoping to find a little message from Alpa and Debz too. Happy Christmas though Jo to you and all your family, and thank you for your continued support on the blog. With my love Alixx

    • ann cain December 22, 2016 at 4:23 pm -  Reply

      Merry Christmas Alison to you and all of your family.xx

  10. karen somerville December 20, 2016 at 11:39 am -  Reply

    merry christmas alison and your family .!will be watching diamonique ,and a very happy new year .xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:21 am -  Reply

      Hello there Karen, thank you for your good wishes, and I will try to give you a wave tonight at 9 PM. Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a happy New Year to you, love, Ali xx

  11. Merche December 20, 2016 at 2:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, As usual I have enjoyed reading your blog. Honey looks gorgeous, she definitely melts your heart. Like you my Christmas as a child are still quite vivid, I thought it was marvellous to get some nuts and a tangerine and perhaps if I was lucky a doll. Trying to get to sleep on Christmas Eve was always so hard, I can remember my mum and dad telling me to closed my eyes really tight, because Father Christmas wouldn’t come otherwise, to children with their eyes open. We are going to spend Christmas with our daughter and her family in a thatched cottage on the Broads.
    Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and a healthy 2017!

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:23 am -  Reply

      Dear Merche, so glad you enjoyed the blog, and particularly the little film of Honey. She is such a sweetheart isn’t she, and Christmas is all about the children. Lovely to read your memories, and to know how special things like a tangerine were to us when we were children. I hope you have a very happy Christmas with your daughter and her family in what sounds like an idyllic setting on the Norfolk Broads. All the very best for the new year too, love Ali xx

  12. Jill December 20, 2016 at 3:27 pm -  Reply

    Merry Christmas to you Alison and to your wonderful family. I enjoy keeping up with all your comings and goings and wish you and all at QVC a great 2017. X

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:24 am -  Reply

      Jill I wish the very same to you and your family, thank you for supporting the blog for taking the time out. Here’s hoping that 2017 will be a great year for us all. Love Ali x

  13. Helen Heywood December 20, 2016 at 3:35 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, your Christmas memories have made me smile. Have a lovely Christmas & a Happy New Year xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:25 am -  Reply

      Helen, I’m glad you enjoyed reading them. wishing you a truly Happy Christmas, and every good wish for the New Year too! Please do stay in touch. Love Ali x

  14. Sue Lee December 20, 2016 at 4:23 pm -  Reply

    As always such a beautifully written blog, conjuring up very evocative past Christmas memories!!!! I especially loved the cocked legged doll!!!! Wishing you a very happy festive time & a well deserved fabulous 2017, lots of hugs, Sue xxx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 11:26 am -  Reply

      Glad it made you laugh Sue… I’ve lost so many memories over the last five years or more, but it’s great that I can still bring back those from over 50 years ago and share them with you. I very much hope that you and your family have a happy Christmas, and the 2017 will bring you all that you wish for. Keep in touch, Love Ali xx

  15. Gail December 20, 2016 at 4:25 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali

    It’s been a long time since I’ve left a comment, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t followed your blogs religiously. It’s fantastic to see that you’ve probably gone from being practically as down as you could get to, hopefully, the highest. Your wonderful wedding to the birth of very beautiful Honey; I’m sooooooo happy for you.

    I didn’t want another year to pass without dropping in to say hello and send you my best wishes xx

    Honey is a dream and I’m very jealous as I’d love to be a grandmother. Perhaps one day.

    Childhood Christmases, what wonderful memories and wonderful times. I can remember staying up late looking out my bedroom window, promising all sorts of things if only I could glimpse, just once, Father Christmas on his sleigh in the sky. I would fall asleep looking out that window. Needless to say I always missed him. Alas, so many of my family are no longer with us and I miss them. I miss them terribly. I even miss the arguments, especially when my dad would cheat at games, every chance he could. I miss the parties my mum had on New Years Eve. All those wonderful characters, gone. Where do they go? Anyway, enough of that doom and gloom. It’s wonderful to have those lovely memories and make new ones as you say.

    I went to Christmas at Kew last Saturday; that cheered me up. On the way back to my Aunts we caught the bus into Richmond and saw the most amazing Christmassy site. A group of chaps were pulling Santa in a real sleigh along the road, great fun. I assume it must have been a charity thing. They all disappeared in a pub before I could find out more, ha ha. One for the road maybe!!

    Anyway Ali, merry Christmas to you and your lovely family. Wishing you all the best in 2017, including continued good health. Go whoop it up with gorgeous Honey.

    Merry Christmas to everyone on this blog.

    Bye for now.

    Gail xxxx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:24 pm -  Reply

      Dear Gail, I so enjoyed reading about your Christmases past. All the more bittersweet because as you say so many members of your family are no longer with you. The comfort I always try to pass on is my belief that those we love never leave us. You will always have those memories of your dad cheating at games, and your mum’s parties and no one can take those from you. You’re right, I am back in the last five years or more and feel truly blessed. There were times when I didn’t believe I would see my grandchildren all come to that even enjoy another Christmas! I’m glad that your visit to Kew last Saturday dude you are, and I very much hope you will be with you love this Christmas and the New Year will bring you much happiness. Love Ali xx

  16. Veronica December 20, 2016 at 4:37 pm -  Reply

    Really enjoyed reading your blog. Honey is a very graceful little dancer, hope your family have a wonderful Xmas.

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm -  Reply

      Veronica, thank you. Maybe ballet lessons will be on the cards for Honey as she gets older? Wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas, from Ali xx

  17. Ruth December 20, 2016 at 6:01 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, I absolutely love love love reading your blogs. There’s always so much love in them. Your family are blessed to have you and each other.

    It’s so amazing how Christmas has crept up on us all. It seems as though you have meticulous plans for the day – wow a lot to pack in.

    My children are 22 and 24 (both still live at home) and insist on me bringing out their christmas bags each year. They had them when they were 5 and 7 and they are currently held together with sellotape and staples. If I threw them out my life wouldn’t be worth living. We also have the same routine for Christmas Day. Church in the morning, then lunch, then presents. Always in that order. It’s funny how these traditions stick.

    It’s clear that you love Christmas and I love everything about it to. Our carol service was fantastic – I couldn’t follow the story at all but the children were all sooo cute and a blessing to everyone that watched them.

    On a separate note, I’ve just seen your article in the Vita breast cancer care magazine. So lovely to see your jewellery in it. I’ve just finished a 4 week course of radiotherapy for breast cancer. Prior to that I had a mastectomy. Finished just in time for Christmas. Lots of appointments for MS and osteoporosis after Christmas but it will be lovely to enjoy this time without further trips to the hospital. No guarantees, I was told, but hopefully now on the road to recovery as far as the cancer is concerned.

    Anyway, I wish you a happy Christmas and a truly blessed, healthy and joyful new year.
    Love and blessings
    Ruth
    x

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:29 pm -  Reply

      Dear Ruth, thank you so much for writing to me, I’m so pleased for you that your radiotherapy for the breast cancer has now finished. I hope you are healing off to mastectomy, and that your appointments after Christmas will go well. I also have osteoporosis, and have to take medicines to counteract the lectures on. You like me have no guarantees, but here I am five years on, and enjoying my life. I wish the same for you. How lovely to read about your Christmas traditions, and how they no doubt will be carried on by your own children once they have homes of their own. I love the idea of church in the morning, and was sadly working when our church had a carol service this year. It has been beautiful in the years past. I wish you a truly happy Christmas with your children and me 2017 be a far better and healthier one for you. Please keep in touch, love Ali xx

  18. janet jones December 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, just a quick note to wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas and a healthy new year,
    Also wishing everybody else the same
    Love Janet xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:31 pm -  Reply

      Dear Janet lovely to hear from you. I hope very much that little Alfie continues to do well, and that you are all together this Christmas? Wishing you all a very happy time, and may 2017 bring you good times and good health. Much love, Ali xx Please do keep in touch.

  19. Margaret Upton December 20, 2016 at 6:10 pm -  Reply

    Lovely tree, I always use the same decorations every year, perhaps next year I can change it a bit!
    I bought my Kipling TSV in Khaki just after midnight, just as well as it was the first colour to go.
    I just wanted to say enjoy the holiday period, I love Christmas but don’t like New Year but hope yours is a good one in every way.

    Love
    Maggie
    xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:32 pm -  Reply

      Dear Maggie, great choice with the Kipling bag. I was amazed at how much use I got from mine! I hope you find the same. May your Christmas holiday be fun, and that the following year will be a good one for you. Thanks for keeping in touch, love Ali xx

  20. Judith Lennon December 20, 2016 at 6:37 pm -  Reply

    Hello Ali
    Well I thoroughly enjoyed your Christmassy blog. So many happy memories. Little honey is just beautiful. I loved her dancing. At her age anything goes and they don’t care who sees them. My Christmasses were also very memorable. I can remember climbing the stairs with my sister singing jingle bells and hanging my pillow case at the bottom of our beds. My dad told me years later that he almost got caught on several occassions because we took so long going to sleep! Lots of giggling going on and shouts from downstairs to be quiet….. oh the joy of waking up and finding your sack full of goodies, tangerines books and inexpensive but lovely presents. I wonder if the children of today realise the amount of money spent on them and do they really appreciate it. One year my parents bought me a black doll which my auntie made clothes for in rabbit wool. She was gorgeous. To my surprise under a blanket was a full size downscaled silver cross pram, complete with pillows and blankets, all hand made. I saw one recently in a second hand toy shop for over £100.00. I wish I had it for my two little grand children today. I loved your mums idea of mixing the pudding in the washing up bowl. My mum did the same. Today’s generation would be horrified but we came to no harm did we? Well I’ve had a busy time the last week. Monday was my birthday and we had a celebration dinnner out with the whole family on Saturday before my son and his family set off for South Africa to see my daughter in laws mum. I know I will miss them over .Christmas but at least we can FaceTime them.
    Well Ali all that is left is to thank you for your lovely blogs over the past year and sharing your life with us and for keeping in touch with each of us individually. Have a wonderful time all of you. Stay well in 2017 and have a fantastic year ahead. Love and hugs as always. Judith xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:36 pm -  Reply

      Do you Judith, I am smiling as I’m writing this, having enjoyed hearing all about your Christmases as a child. It took for ever to get to sleep didn’t it? I will never forget the excitement though of Christmas morning and feeling the weight of your stocking case on your feet. My auntie Ivy and grandmother always stitched, knitted or sewed things for us, and they lasted for years. I don’t think our children are probably aware of this, but I do think we should keep the memories alive… it’s been lovely doing this on the blog too! This year we have bought Honey a dolls pram and dolly, which I hope she will enjoy playing with. Belated Happy Birthday, and altho I’m sorry your son and his family won’t be with you this Christmas, I am sure you have plenty of memorable moments together in 2017. So glad that you have enjoyed supporting them. I thought as well. Wishing you a very happy Christmas, Love Ali xx

  21. Linda December 20, 2016 at 7:57 pm -  Reply

    Dear Ali, Hope you have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New year. And I hope you can spend it with all your loved one’s. God’s blessings to you all.

    Love Linda.

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:37 pm -  Reply

      My dear Linda, I wish the same for you too, and hope that you will have family and friends around you to celebrate this very special time of the year. With love, Ali xx

  22. June Moxon December 20, 2016 at 7:58 pm -  Reply

    Alison your blog is always a pleasure to read as you have such nice things to share with us. I recently had a breadt cancer scare and while they were doing all the rests I kept thinking of you and how you handled your own illness fortunately everything was benign. I am beyond happy that you have recovered so well and that you are on our screens again happy and beautiful. May you and your lovely family have a fantastic Christmas and a new year filled with joy and love. One day hing is for sure QVC will continue to take a share of my pension every month !! I love it xxx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm -  Reply

      Dear June what a frightening time for you, but I’m so relieved that you did not receive news and that you are well and happy. It seems a very long time since, and I know how very lucky I am to be working again, spending time with those I love, and making the best of my life. I’m so glad that what you have read over the years was a comfort to you. Keep watching, I’ll try to remember to give you a wave, and I hope that 2017 will be a happy one for you, with love, Ali xx

  23. Linda Marshall December 21, 2016 at 8:24 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali, just a little message to wish you and Colin a very happy Christmas and a happy new year.
    love Linda xxx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:39 pm -  Reply

      Linda thank you and a very merry Christmas to you and your family from both Colin and I, with love, Ali xx

  24. Pauline Woollard December 21, 2016 at 6:11 pm -  Reply

    Ali I am new to your blog as far as writing I love reading your interesting blog I just want to say what a truly wonderfully kind caring woman you are.
    You have a wonderful out look on life will all you have been through
    I want to wish you a truly Wonderful Christmas and a very Happy and Healthy New Year
    Love Pauline

  25. Christine December 21, 2016 at 6:14 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. X

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:40 pm -  Reply

      Christine, I wish the same for you too. Many thanks for supporting the blog and for keeping in touch. Love Ali xx

  26. Denise December 21, 2016 at 8:13 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alison, loved reading your blog and hearing about all your news and Christmas stories. Honey is growing fast I loved to see her dancing and her outfit is gorgeous. I’m so happy you will spend Christmas Day with her.
    My Christmas memories are just fond ones of being taken to see Father Christmas at a large department store, going to the Panto from where I got my love of the theatre and spending the actual day with family and especially the ones who are no longer with us. I don’t know if its an age thing but each year I seem to get more emotional about them not being here.
    I think I missed a couple of your blogs but I like many have been suffering with the dreaded lurgey – again. As I returned from holiday with it getting it again I feel like it’s taken it out of me. I’m feeling a lot better now though but we are planning a quietish festive season and with baby’s imminent arrival it’s been the perfect excuse to do just that. If nothing has happened my daughter in law has to go in to be induced on 31st December so he may be a New Year baby!
    Well I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.
    Much love Denise xx

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm -  Reply

      Dear Denise, lovely to hear from you, and I’m so pleased you enjoyed dancing.. We are very lucky to be seeing her and also my three children over Christmas, but like you there will be folk we no longer see, and that makes me sad too. I was very sorry to know that you’ve had the lurgey but hope that you are feeling much better now. Exciting news of the Christmas baby!! But if it doesn’t come over the holiday, then being born on New Years day is very special! My best friend Yo was born then and we always tend to get together. I’m launching into the NEw Year so please do let me know how you get on. Take care, lots of love, Ali xxx

  27. Christine Auchterlonie December 21, 2016 at 9:31 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali… Loved your blog and the memories of times past … We all have those and treasure them especially at this time of the year … The good old days! Little Honey was so lovely at the party and her dancing was just a my grandaughter Jessica started off and now she would like to win the X Factor!!!I loved the pictures you posted of the fancy dress … It does everyone the world of good to let their hair down and enjoy each other’s company.Its such a busy time of year for everyone parties,meals out,shopping one wondered how we manage it all and survive..and it’s all over with the blink of a eye and with so much prior preparation.I read with interest you plans for the holidays… We will be going to Simons on Christmas Day with Fiona and Simons partners parents . Jessica and Katy have arranged an afternoon tea on Friday for my birthday they are paying for it out of their pocket money… A lovely thought .. They get so excited at Christmas ….and are very lucky they receive some lovely gifts … Well Ali I will close here for now and wish you and your family happy times together making more memories to treasure… Happy Christmas with my very best wishes with love… Chris x

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm -  Reply

      My dear Chris, you are so right! All this preparation, and then it’s over in the blink of an eye 🙂 It is always appreciated though which makes it worth while in my book! Honey loves music and dancing, and I think dancing class may well be on the cards once she’s older 🙂 I very much hope you enjoy your Birthday tea tomorrow with Jessica and Katy – how very kind of them! I hope that you all have a truly wonderful time and that all your preparations come together on the day! Thank you for your constant support on the blog this year and here’s to a happy and healthy 2017. Love to you all, from Ali xx

  28. Denise Pilcher December 22, 2016 at 8:28 am -  Reply

    I really enjoy reading your blogs Alison- you are such a warm person who always offers some kind of comfort to those who may need it. May i wish you a wonderful, peaceful and healthy Christmas and New Year x

    • Alison Keenan December 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm -  Reply

      Denise that is so very kind of you to say. I really enjoy keeping in touch, and hearing about life around me. Thank you for writing to me and I wish you and your family a peaceful and happy Christmas and New year too. With love, Ali xx

  29. Sue Radford December 22, 2016 at 3:07 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali,

    Loved reading your blog! Little Honey looks so cute dancing. I think she’s looking more like you every day – lucky little Honey!

    Your tales of Christmases gone by made me laugh so much! I had a doll just like yours and treasured it so much I kept it for ‘donkey’s years’, until I found out a couple of days after our last house move (14 years ago), my husband threw it out with all the excess items. I was so upset about that, and didn’t speak to him for ages – to this day he’s never lived it down lol!

    Wishing you and your family a Very Happy Christmas, and more importantly a Very Healthy & Happy New Year!

    Una, I really hope little Meli is getting better – what a time it must have been for you! Wishing you all good things for 2017.

    Best wishes for Christmas & the New Year to Alpa, Debz and everyone.

    Love Sue Radford xx

    • Una December 28, 2016 at 1:17 am -  Reply

      Hi Sue. Thank you for your kind wishes.
      Meli is home, and had a lovely Xmas. She is still a bit under the weather, but is improving and keeping me on my toes, wee rascal.
      I hope you had a wonderful Xmas, and happy new year to you when it comes.xx

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 1:42 pm -  Reply

      Dear Sue, lovely to hear from you and I am glad that you continue to enjoy the blog and particularly the pics of Honey 🙂 Sounds like we have some shared memories when it comes to Christmas time, but I do feel sad about your treasured doll. At least you kept hold of her that long… I had a doll’s house my dad made for me for Christmas 1967. I kept it until we moved from Shropshire to Bedfordshire, and I still regret allowing it to be given away then. I just hope some other little soul got as much pleasure out of it as I did 🙂 I hope you had a great Christmas, and that 2017 will be a healthy and happy one for you too. Love Ali xxx Thank for your continued support on the blog – couldn’t do it without you!

  30. Sue December 22, 2016 at 6:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali, I have been an avid qvc customer for years and a 100% fan of yours. All l want to say is, may your Christmas be amazing and 2017 be the most sparkling year ever for you and your loved ones.. Hugs and kisses. Sue

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 1:50 pm -  Reply

      Bless you Sue, delighted to know that you have been a customer of ours for so long, and that you enjoy the shows. All that you wish for me I wish for you, and I hope that 2017 will be a good one. With love, Ali xx

  31. Elizabeth Keenan December 22, 2016 at 8:48 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Lovely blog as usual, how cute is honey with her dancing it does not seem that long since she was a baby, the time is really flying this year, must be getting old.
    Nice to read all about your memories, and talking about the icing on the Christmas cake I put too much glycerine in the icing and I could not get my peaks to stay as it was too soft, this has never happened before, my Daughter said the top of the cake looked as though mice had run all over it (charming).
    Wish you and your family a lovely Christmas and all the best for a healthy 2017.
    Much love
    Elizabeth X

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 1:52 pm -  Reply

      Dear Elizabeth, I was thinking exactly the same thing about Honey on Christmas Day when we were all together. Lucy feels much the same, and already misses the time that has passed so quickly. Funny you had the opposite situation with your cake icing! Mum’s was definitely a lack of glycerine! I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and wish you and your whole family a very happy and healthy 2017, with love, Ali xx

  32. Eileen December 22, 2016 at 8:52 pm -  Reply

    Hi would just like to say Happy Christmas Alison to you and your family God bless Eileen Davies xx

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 1:56 pm -  Reply

      Dear Eileen and I wish the same to you and your family. A very Happy 2017, love Ali xx

  33. Dorothy hollingsworth December 22, 2016 at 9:26 pm -  Reply

    Hi ali,just a quick note to wish you & your family a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year.X

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 1:56 pm -  Reply

      Dorothy, thanks so much, and I wish the very same to you and your family. Happy New Year! Love Ali xxxx Thanks so much for all your support on the blog this year x

  34. Teresa L December 23, 2016 at 5:49 am -  Reply

    Dear Ali, lovely blog as always, it has brought back so many memories of Christmas past and all the little things that we used to take for granted but mean so much. Like you my Mum always put a sixpence in the Christmas puddings and being the only child it always came to me. I thought it was magic not realising that she put it in just before bring it to the table.
    On of the things that used to happen when I got a bit older was we had a LP buy Frank and Nancy Sinatra which was Christmas songs and when this was put on in the morning it was time for the adults to get up so that I could have my presents.
    I also remember Mum and my Nan scrubbing out the washing up bowl so that the cake and pudding could be made, and me standing on the chair to watch in the hope that I would get a chance to scrape the bowl. Also to have a stir for luck.
    Paul and I are looking forward to our first Christmas in our new home, makeing new tradition and memories. It will be very quiet until the evening when we will have a Skype chat with the family in America which we really look forward to.
    Looks like you and the girls had a fabulous time away you make a very good Amy Winehouse. What fun you all must have had I bet there was a lot of laughter.
    I think that is all the news for now so all that is left is to wish you and all your family a very happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous new year.
    With love from Teresa and Paulxxxxxxxxx

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 2:02 pm -  Reply

      Dear Teresa, thanks so much for writing to me, and I hope that although quiet, it was lovely to be safe and warm in your new home this Christmas? How was the skype chat with the family? Were you able to take your laptop/tablet and show them around the new house? Thanks so much for sharing your Christmas memories with me – sounds like we must be much the same age! Mum said to me that apparently it was a brand new washing up bowl she used, but my sister and I still thought it was the old one scrubbed out 🙂 We had all our Christmas songs playing on Christmas morning too and in the car o the way to see Lucy – I love Nat King Cole and The Christmas Song. You’re right about the girls weekend away – a great deal of laughter and relief to have had good news about one of our number who’d been worried about her son. Plenty of reasons to celebrate. Take care and may I wish you and Paul, a truly happy new year and one in which you find lots of new places to explore and make many new friends. Love Ali xxxx

  35. Una December 23, 2016 at 3:35 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali. Just a quick one, and the best one. SHE’S HOME. MERRY CHRISTMAS. Love Una & Meli X

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 2:05 pm -  Reply

      My dear Una, thanks so much for letting us know! I had every intention of writing back to you when I read this on Christmas Eve, but it was a slightly mad day, and I knew it wouldn’t get posted! Soooooo relieved for you both, and I do hope that you still managed to meet your chap from the airport and were all able to spend some time together over Christmas. Such a relief for you all , and I’m sure that being at home with you is just the tonic Meli needs… I pray she is thriving and getting much stronger each day. Please give her my love and love to you too. May this new year bring you both all that you so richly deserve and a world of happiness. Thank you so much for keeping us all up to date with your news and making this blog such a special post. Ali xx

  36. Jilly December 23, 2016 at 9:36 pm -  Reply

    And here is wishing you all a very Happy Christmas Ali and your army. With all best wishes for 2017. Just starting to read all the catch up blogs from some time and cannot get over how your early Christmas mornings seemed like ours. We always had the stocking at the end of the bed then when the given time came we all went downstairs to see what Santa had left with areas of the settee and chairs for each of us. Such tradition that we still all have stockings and still have areas of the seating for our parcels.
    I have had a silly busy few months but managed to catch a few of your shows and thought how wonderful you were with Tova when she had a cough. You were quite a honey bunny in caring and it showed so much your warmth.
    Delighted to read about your own Honey and you will be having a magical time with Lucy and Simon on Sunday. How special it will be.
    We are in the lakes with Annie and the family. My hubby et al came over ten days ago and I came just Wednesday night after work. So tonight spent some time wrapping pressies but all done now.
    Delighted to read about your girlie weekend as I recall them from over the years.
    Annie has had her check ups and all very good. Hope the treatment you will have started is not horrid for you. You have been looking lovely on any shows I have did manage a quick five minutes . For some reason when the tv gets turned on it comes onto qvc!!!! One night before the picture came up there was laughter and I knew it was you. Cannot remember which show that was but i was rather chuffed I was right In who the laughter belonged to.
    I don’t eat meat or cheese so was interested in your veggie cooking. I will be making corn sausage rolls tomorrow.
    Going back through your blogs now and will enjoy all the catch ups etc and the special delightful pictures of your little angels -but sending lots of love and good wishes to everyone and the hope that good health comes to each and everyone love Jilly xx

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 2:11 pm -  Reply

      My dear Jilly as always, lovely to hear from you, and to know that you were able to spend Christmas in the Lakes with your husband, Annie and all the family. Bearing in mind you worked up until the last minute I hope they spoilt you and you were able to relax? Glad you caught some of the pre Christmas shows too. I really enjoyed my hour with Tova and we went out to dinner afterwards – something we’d been promising each other for ages but never managed to with the time restraints. She is delightful and I am very fond of her. I loved reading about your past Christmases.. does Annie carry on the same traditions now? My Lucy does with Honey, and although we had our presents at slightly different times of the day, it was just as exciting. I am so glad to know that Annie continues to do well, and it must be a huge relief to you too. Let’s pray that 2017 will see more of the same. I’ll keep you in the loop re my new meds – check up with the oncologist in February. I wish you Jilly, Annie and the whole family a truly happy 2017. May it be a year when you see as much of each other as possible, and one in which you are all happy and healthy. Thank you so much for you constant support of this blog – we all love reading about your life. Take care, love Ali xx

  37. angela white December 24, 2016 at 11:07 am -  Reply

    hi ali you alright!? I would like to wish you and your family and all of the army a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year. I too remember a pillowcase at the bottom of the bed at Christmas and remember having a dolls pram and a sweet shop with little weighing scales! we have both been poorly with bronchitis but on mend now. I lost my brother in October and still carnt believe he has gone it will be so hard this year it was all so sudden he told us he had cancer in his lung and had 3 chemo cycles but he kept a lot from us as it was in pancreas and liver and would have had a terrible time. he had a coronary thrombosis and wouldn’t have known anything about it so maybe was a blessing my sister and I are in bits. well ali once again have a lovely Christmas and will speak next year! all the best,angie x

    • Alison Keenan December 29, 2016 at 2:15 pm -  Reply

      Hi there Angela, Thank you for writing, and letting me know your news, although I was so very sorry to hear about your brother. Such a terrible shock and sadness for you as a family, and I am sure, a loss that was hard to bear at Christmas…. That’s possibly why you’ve both been poorly with bronchitis, but I very much hope that you are feeling better and stronger now. Thank you for sharing your Christmas memories… I hope that in the years to come it will be easier for you to remember those times with your brother. Take good care of each other, and may 2017 bring you good health and happiness. Stay strong and lean on those who love you. Ali xxx

  38. Sue Radford December 29, 2016 at 7:58 pm -  Reply

    Dear Una,

    I’m so happy little Meli is out of hospital – what a relief it must be for you! Sending her a big hug.

    Love Sue Radford x

  39. Jenny Johnson January 15, 2017 at 11:49 am -  Reply

    Hi Ali, first time on here for me! Loved reading all your Christmas traditions. Mine were much the same growing up, except on Boxing Day once all the presents had been opened and my sister and myself had something else to look forward to , Mum used to put a small present on the tree. Something like a new toothbrush, hairslide or soap just for us. Love seeing the photos of your grandchildren, they are so cute and adorable. I live in the Scottish Borders and winter so far has been mild, but had a little snow recently. Looking forward to spring as I expect we all are…even have a few snowdrops poking their heads up and lots of bulbs which I got from QVC back in the autumn. Cant wait for the display. I was out there all day planting them. Wishing you and your family a belated Happy and Healthy New Year. x

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