Christmas is just a glance away. Outside the winter sky is hoary, and the chilled fingers of an icy wind blasts through the coats and scarves, but everywhere there is anticipation, excitement, expectancy. Shop windows are adorned with holly and mistletoe, festive colour and lights, ribbons of bright pigment, dark green, crimson, scarlet, burnished silk, glittering silver and gold. The entrances to each store echo with Christmas carols and song.
Last-minute shoppers bustle in and out of shops with renewed energy, swathed in thick coats and brightly-coloured scarves, carrier bags filled with shiny gifts. Children skip beside them, faces alight with wonder, tightly clutching hold of their parents with tiny gloved hands. A child looks up to the sky and, illuminated by the street lights, a few flakes of snow, like tiny pieces of opaque crystal, fall slowly, silently to the ground. Soon there is a crisp layer of snow on the streets and the sky above is filled with a strange other-worldly light.
Inside every home, beside each hearth, the presents are packed, stacked and ribboned, knotted and named, covered with iridescent paper and velvet bows, piled high beside each Christmas tree. A fragrant mix of cloves, cinnamon and pine needles fills the room, and the ambient flames from the coal fire casts a shimmer of ever-changing shapes against the walls. A time for family, a time to celebrate friendships old and friendships newly-formed.
2009 plays its passing chords and a new decade will soon begin.