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Natalie Meg Evans talks traditions, tinsel and Christmas-card-towers

It wouldn’t be Christmas without…

As a child I adored Christmas. As I come from a family of borderline hoarders, Christmas cards, tinsel, decorations and wrapping paper would be carefully stored year on year. As soon as December arrived, and the advent calendar was hung up, my brother and I would get the boxes down in preparation. A fun ritual for us was to build tower blocks out of all the saved Christmas cards. It sounds nerdy in retrospect but this was the 60s. No telly. And we’d lost our father by then. Our mother was unwell and life was a bit tough. We made our card towers as a yearly reminder that we weren’t alone, that we had a network of people in our lives. As soon as I had a home of my own, I took over the family Christmas, hosting it and doing all the cooking. Though I was occasionally heard to complain that it felt like running a small, free​ B&B, I’ve been very happy doing it. This year is different as one member of our family is ill and unable to make it as far as my home. So, I’m going to London, as my sister’s guest. My son and nephews are delighted. At last, they can go out on the town on Christmas Eve! I foresee hangovers on Christmas Day. It means I won’t be driving to midnight mass in the snow, through unlit rural lanes. That’s a wrench as there is nothing so beautiful as carols in a country church. That ritual has become my annual lung capacity check-up. If I can sing the entire chorus of Ding Dong Merrily on High (you know, Glooooooo-ooooo-oooria etc  etc ​Hosanna in Excelis) on one breath, I’m good to go for the next twelve months.  Letting go of my country, family Christmas proves that life moves on. On the 23rd, I’ll be driving down the A12 with prezzies and dogs in the car (course they’re coming too!) and a large turkey – to cook, not a live one.  Old habits die hard and I’m going to try and get charge of the Christmas dinner. Well, you can’t give up all the levers of power at once.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

What I’m hoping for this year under the tree…

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so they say, but they’ll have to wait until I have that cute-meet with a billionaire (I’m thinking of lurking around Canary Wharf, stepping out in front of expensive looking bicycles). In the meantime, lesser gems would do me. I love amethyst and amber and would dearly like some drop earrings. I recently had my ears re-pierced so I’ve become a born again earring collector. For something a little cheaper, I recently stumbled online on the Ochil fudge pantry. A whole pantry full of ​Scottish, hand-made heaven? Lordy me!

​THE MILLINER’S SECRET by Natalie Meg Evans is available to buy in paperback now and A GOWN OF THORNS is available to buy in e-book.

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7 Reasons Why I Love New York by Natalie Meg Evans 

Jo Thomas’ ode to the humble Brussels sprout