It's all over now. (Wasn't that a Rolling Stones hit once upon a time?)
Christmas is a very strange time of year when the days are short, dark and dismal so we fill the place with bright, twinkling lights almost as if we're afraid of the dark. Sunrise is around 8.30 and sunset about 3.30 thanks to Summer Time fiddling with the clocks. We need the surge of energy that Christmas brings - the rush to buy presents, to fill the fridge, freezer and store cupboard so we can eat and survive the freezing weather, to keep ourselves busy doing energetic, happy things. It's an instinct to come together, to herd together instead of trying to survive on our own. In ancient days, it would have been vital for survival. Today, with electricity and abundant food, it is a psychological need for bright lights and companionship. The urge that strikes people to rush out and buy "bargains" in the post-Christmas sales - which used to be "January sales" - could be considered as relief and affirmation that we're still alive.
The shortest day has crept by, almost submerged in the floods that afflict the north of England. Those who live on flood plains must now be counting the cost as rivers, delightful in summer, now metamorphose into raging torrents of brown, muddy water. Trees that soak up gallons of water a day have been ruthlessly felled to provide grazing. Streams clog up with debris, branches and leaf litter and no one clears them. Water has soaked into the land all through autumn, and now runs straight off the hills and into the river systems. The river Tyne was rising again yesterday for the third or fourth time this month. So much rain has fallen in so short a time there is little anyone can do. News bulletins tell me the same is happening in South America, while Australia suffers bush fires. It's a strange world we have today.