The main culprit is my loathing of the over-consumption which more often than not tends to accompany Christmas. To add insult to injury, I'm working in the city centre which, having to deal with the hordes of what I call the Christmas Zombies in the weeks leading up to the day, makes it hard for me to get into any sort of Christmas spirit. OK, I admit it: my name is Ann and I'm a bit of a Scrooge!
It didn't help that Christmas wasn't exactly a huge affair in my childhood home, just a quiet family gathering, enjoyable but leaving no lasting impressions beyond those faintly rose-tinted nostalgic ones inherent to childhood memories.
After I left home, I didn't really do anything special for Christmas for years, and in fact it was only after I met Jos that I started putting up a tree of my own, enthusiastically at first, but only after much coaxing from Jos as the years went by.
I was home early that day, so before proceeding with the task at hand, we briefly hopped into the garden for some outfit photos. As you can see, I was wearing totally un-Christmassy colours. So there!
It had been another one of those interminably grey days, so I had to fake a bit of sunshine by wearing lots of yellow. My whole outfit was based around the blue Diolen dress I'd pulled from my wardrobe, its print a mixture of huge yellow hued flowers with two borders of sea shells near the hemline.
More yellow was added in the form of a long-line cardigan, opaques, a round buckled belt and one of my ever-growing collection of beaded necklaces. The blue of the dress was repeated in the glass beads decorating the flower stems on my Art Nouveau style brooch.
Before the pleasurable task of decorating could begin, we had to assemble the fake tree we've had for nearly 20 years, a good quality one bought from a local garden centre.
The next hurdle were the fairy lights, which we usually struggle with, but once these were in place, it was time for the boxes of baubles to come out of storage. Most of our decorations are vintage, some of them heirlooms from Jos's family, while others have been picked up from charity shops and flea markets over the years.
The little wren - one of a pair bought from a garden centre many years ago - and the squirrel - an irristible charity shop find - are modern, but more than make up for this in cuteness.
Top left and bottom right are permanent scenes from Dove Cottage, which really comes into its own during the dark Winter days.
We were off on our usual charity shopping trip, and this is what I wore. The red wool-blend skirt was a recent Think Twice find and scouring my wardrobe for the perfect top to wear with it, my eyes alighted on this black floral print blouse. This was a Think Twice find as well, bought several years ago.
Made from a velvety fabric, I'm a fan of its bishop sleeves, deep V-neck and its slight peplum, making it ideal to wear untucked. And then there's the fabulously cheerful floral print containing every colour under the sun.
Spoilt for choice I opted for a lilac belt to accentuate my waist, a blue chunky ring and green beads.
The day's shopping trip wasn't the most successful ever, but I still managed to find this vintage bouclé jacket in scrumptious berry shades, its broad shoulders possibly indicating its 1980s origins.
I couldn't wait to wear it, so that's what I did for yet another edition of our favourite flea market on Sunday. I pinned a yellow felted flower corsage to it, found in a quirky shop in Narberth, Pembrokeshire, and wore a purple mohair charity shopped beret. The sage green faux fur scarf was an impulse buy from a local supermarket about two years ago.
I was wearing one of my favourite dresses, another black floral one, its print featuring orange, lilac, green and white. It has got a solid black cowl neck and cuffs as well as a wide circle skirt, which I've twirled on the blog once or twice before.
At my waist, another lilac belt, a shiny vinyl one with an oval buckle. On top, a green cardigan, its shank buttons added by me, replacing the originals which I didn't like. The floral brooch is another old favourite.
Just two weeks after the previous edition, the flea market wasn't even remotely filled to its full capacity, and it wasn't all that exciting. Still, these gorgeous wooden Scottie dog bookends caught my eye and insisted on coming home with me.
I selected some cards of large vintage buttons from our friend Ilona's stall. At € 1 per card, she virtually gave them away for free. This was a special price for me, as the cards were marked between € 3 and € 5 each. Isn't she a sweetie?
It will probably come as a surprise, but these two brooches were the only ones I found. The only affordable ones, I should add, as some stallholders' prices are beyond ridiculous, telling me that a particular brooch is "old" upon seeing my horrified expression.
The following week was my last full working week this year and after a relaxing weekend, which I'm skipping for now, there was one more day of work on Monday 23 December.
I couldn't wait to get away from the crowds on Monday afternoon, even if they do not much trouble me from my vantage point on the 5th floor. On the bottom left you can see Antwerp's cathedral tower covered in scaffolding and decorated with a lighted Christmas tree. The photo on the bottom right are the fairy lights in one of the trees at street level, as seen from one of the office windows.
And then it was Christmas Eve, the first day of my longed for holidays.
My Mum used to host Christmas Eve, and after she passed away, we kept up the tradition with my Dad. Now that they've both passed away, it's just dinner for the two of us.
The table was laid with my parents' best dinner service, a wedding present back in the late 1950s. The tablecoth, which used to cover the dining table when I was growing up, is making an appearance as well, while the cutlery used to belong to my paternal grandparents.
And even if it triggers bittersweet memories, it always fills my heart with joy to be able to use these family heirlooms.
So, another Christmas has come and gone, and the ghosts of Christmas past have been laid to rest for another year.
The Scrooge in me cannot wait for normal service to be resumed, but in the meantime I am making the most of my time off by not doing very much at all.
See you soon!