It was with a sense of shock that I realised, a few hours ago, that it's one month until Christmas. Yes, November has raced past, and we're almost in December.
All I have done in preparation for the festive season is to bake our Christmas cake, just over two weeks ago. I've only remembered to 'feed' it once. I haven't started the mincemeat, or the Christmas puddings. I haven't looked for Christmas cards, I haven't done ANY Christmas shopping, and I haven't thought about what to say in this year's newsletter.
In my defence - if I need one - I should say that it doesn't feel like winter. It doesn't even feel like November. And that's after thirteen years of living in Cyprus, so I'm not expecting the grey, rainy gloom of England in November. I did, however, expect a few rainy days, and a distinct cooling of the temperatures.
Today it is, actually, a tiny bit cooler than it has been. Sufficiently so that I'm now wearing my very useful light-weight zip-up jacket - made of thin cotton, just enough to keep out a chill. And I had to use the water heater twice this morning (forty minutes) before the water was hot enough for a bath. But we're still sleeping under the thin duvet, and I haven't yet worn a regular sweatshirt.
In the UK, it isn't grey and gloomy - it's cold and frosty. Some parts have had snow, others are just bitterly cold, although sunny. Here in Cyprus, we're still getting daytime shade temperatures of about 24C. Yes, that's chillier than it has been, but it's considerably warmer than it usually is at the end of November.
I am aware that the climate in Cyprus is much more like that of Bethlehem than that of England. Jesus probably wasn't born in December anyway (would shepherds have been sitting out on hills, cooler than the coastal regions, in winter? I doubt it, somehow). But even adopting the traditional date, it wouldn't have been grey and miserable as England can be. I should be used to sunshine as Christmas approaches, to seeing oranges and pomegranates as signs that winter is here, rather than expecting bare trees and freezing nights.
But even in Cyprus, non-religious Christmas cards show snow and robins and people warmly wrapped in thick coats ... I gather some of them do even in the Southern Hemisphere when Christmas comes in the middle of summer. Tradition is hard to break out of. And so, I must look at the calendar rather than the weather, and remember that I do have some Christmas baking to do.
Tomorrow. Or should that be 'avrio'?