You will (hopefully) be pleased to know that I am now on the mend, and that the swine flu vaccine is most definitely coursing through my veins as I am eating like a pig.
However, I seem to have lost a weekend (which at this time of the year is quite alarming) but the good news is that I have done most of my Christmas shopping online from my sickbed (aka sofa in the sitting room) so it's not all bad.
I have decided to do the present wrapping thing in batches this year, rather than in one huge, 'lose the will to live' wrapathon on Christmas Eve. I actually quite like wrapping presents, but only if they come in boxes.
Square or rectangular I don't mind. So long as there aren't any curves.
Wrapping presents shaped like parallelograms, or trapeziums, or dodecahedrons is a nightmare, as they always end up going pear-shaped.
So this year no-one will receive anything from me which can't be wrapped with hospital corners.
Apropos of nothing at all, I was reminded earlier of a Scottish tradition which my mother developed into a fine art.
Each year, as soon as our Christmas decorations were put up (just a few days before Christmas), my brother and I would both laboriously write our letters to Santa, then my mum would send them up the chimney for the elves to catch at the top. If your letter burned up in the fire then you'd obviously been bad and you wouldn't get your Christmas wish.
Harsh but fair.
Miraculously (considering our behaviour over the course of the previous year) our letters never burned up in the fire. They always went straight up the chimney then Tom and I would rush outside and my mum would swear that she had seen the elves snatch our letters and take them straight off to Santa Claus.
Many, many years later, I wanted to revive the tradition for my own children, but I didn't want to leave anything to chance, and although I had my suspicions, I wasn't quite sure how my mum achieved 100% success year after year. So I did some controlled experiments while the children weren't around.
Of course, the secret was to get a really good through draught allied with a blazing fire. I tried several combinations of open doors/windows until I got just the right updraft to whisk each letter swiftly up the chimney without them falling into the fire and burning up fiercely. Talk about the potential for childhood trauma.
I didn't quite manage 100% success rate, but the one time my daughter's letter fell in the fire was NOT MY FAULT. Some eejit closed the back door which I'd carefully left ajar just before the 'up the lum' ceremony. I had to do some quick thinking and came up with a heart-rending story of a poorly elf who couldn't fly properly and had just missed the letter.
Hence the conflagration.
I don't know if my daughter was more traumatised over the burnt letter or the poorly elf, but the following year I didn't leave anything to chance and warned everyone WHO SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER that if they closed any open doors/windows without checking with me first there would be ructions on a grand scale.
Nevertheless, I hope my children remember this yearly rite when/if they have children of their own......