It's a disappointment that so few traditional Christmas carols are sung at St Andrew's, but nevertheless, a happy service took place, and we were soon on our way home, the cold Sunday noonday.
A lunch followed by Viv setting off to a practice for the Townfield carol service, but before that we did computer things: Viv printing more CD sleeves while sorting through some clothes, while I loaded software such as ZoneAlarm, AVG, OpenOffice, VLC and Firefox onto the laptop we had bought for Christopher.
Then I wrapped up some more presents, before Matthew and I set off to the carol service at Townfield. Townfield is the most recent daughter church of St Andrew's, meeting in the hall of my old primary school (though on a different site) but I had not attended a service there since our return home. Nevertheless, there are many there who I know or knew: Iris, the mother of two girls who were at the school with me, Thanassis and Tricia, who I knew at university and have only met once or twice since, and several who regularly or irregularly attend St Andrew's too.
It was a bright service, notable for the blues/jazz carol "Midnight", which I had never heard before. Time spent celebrating the birth of Christ, but also meeting again with friends afterwards.
Then we walked up to Margaret's place, where we ate ham sandwiches and drank coffee and talked and listened as we waited for the ten o'clock service. Matthew caught one of the last trains home, while David came to join us at Margaret's.
Not long before ten, we arrived at church to join with those who had come to celebrate communion and then again at half past eleven, another service of celebration.
Margaret gave us a lift home down the cold and quiet roads, and we finished our preparation for Christmas Day, getting to bed around two.
But it was just before half past six that we were woken, and eventually rose, for breakfast and to open the gifts in the boys' stockings. Then a brisk walk down Dibbinsdale and up to Spital and across to Bebington, where this morning's services were. I was surprised by how many people were there this morning, not least because there were more there than at midnight. A short and straightforward service, with many of the carols this time, from "Oh come all ye faithful" to "Hark the herald angels sing", via "God rest ye merry gentlemen" and two spirituals.
Then a short communion service, and a lift home, and some preparation: the cooking of vegetables, the opening of wine.
Just about one o'clock, it was time to open gifts, in the presence of Viv's mum and my cousin Alison, who also joined us, of course, for Christmas lunch of turkey, roast vegetables of both English and New Zealand tradition, and dessert including Christmas pudding with sherry custard afterwards.
Then once again there was conversation, rest and dish-washing, before a simple fare of meat and bread later in the afternoon.
Then the boys watched a new movie or two, before we drifted through Christmas evening, where we are now close to the end of.