It is always this way. You fit a year into December. There’s work and housework and meals and deadlines and now the extras; parcels, decorations, find a tree and prevent it from dying, see your neighbours, all of them, and then see everyone else you’ve ever spoken to, extra weight, extra bulk, extra cheer, Cesar’s inconvenient census, fatigue like pregnancy, endings and beginnings. Something has to give but nothing does. Time is crammed tight and dense as dark matter. Dinner for thirty? Why not? Homemade gingerbread for the masses. Two carol services a night. A family donkey trip under brittle stars. You can move out to a stable but you still have to entertain guests – kings no less – dirty clothes shoved hurriedly under the manger, afterbirth a secret hidden by your halo which must not slip.

But it is always this way too.  The noise stops. The angels pack up and fly away. The cattle leave for the fields and the guests depart by camel or plane. And there you are, sun on your eyelids. Green garden exhaling around you. New life breathing, miraculous, in your arms.

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