- Take one Welsh farmhouse (or any house or flat really, the venue is not crucial)
- Add a bit of preparation so that there are some things in the freezer, the presents are bought and there is not too much last minute panicking to be done.
- Don't spend too much.
- Bring in your family. If they are easy and lovely they can stay a while. I think you have to have family even if they are cussed and awkward but in that case they should either be briefly visited or brought in and taken away by car, by you, for the shortest possible time. Spend the most time with the people you love the most.
- Be nice to each other.
- Don't try to spend every waking minute of every day together, in fact everyone should have bits of every day with a little time to him or her self.
- Add a couple of dogs if possible which will produce a requirement for groups of people to go out walking and alter the pace of the days and blow the cobwebs away.
- Add a small child or two to make you laugh.
- Ideally have dishwashers of both the mechanical and the human kind. I am lucky enough to have Ian for whom washing dishes in our new kitchen is practically a hobby.
- Eat well. Drink moderately but well. Laugh a lot.
- Be aware of how lucky you are.
My father in law was newly arrived here at this time last year, still needing quite a lot of help and uprooted from the town which had been his home all his life, except for a few years of war service in the Orkneys. As the year ends he is happy and settled too, far more mobile about the house and enjoying the additional family company which comes his way as a result of living with us. That has been a different sort of challenge, learning to share your time and space with someone else again, but the right thing to do, a good thing to do.
My parents are just about to downsize and start a new phase of their lives and my father is not as well now as he was at the beginning of the year which saddens and worries me but they seem to be going into 2012 with their customary determination and good cheer.
Life might not be easy all the time (when was it ever?) but it is good.
And the wonderful thing about gardening is that there is a whole new year to plan and dream for and to get it right in, or parts of it!
Happy New Year to everyone who reads this blog. I am very glad to know you all, in whatever way, large or small, real or virtual. I wish you all the very best for 2012.