Traditions, rituals and habits have all been disrupted this year and now that Christmas is imminent, we probably need to be a little more inventive and self-sufficient when it comes to entertainment and celebrations at this special time.
The national message is to support the high street and boost the economy by entering into a - socially-distanced - spending frenzy, but the past few months might have left us wanting to be a bit more discerning in our purchases.
In all that we've experienced, many of us have appreciated our natural environment afresh (listen to The Stubborn Light of Things podcasts by nature writer Melissa Harrison if you'd like to relive the highlights of the summer). But we have also been confronted with the fragility of our existence like never before. So perhaps our spending habits will change this year.
We'll be getting adventurous with the cooking at home rather than partying, and completing jigsaws rather than pulling crackers, maybe. And the newspapers, magazines and television programmes are urging us to be more creative with our giving, too: parcel up homemade biscuits, knit socks, blankets or a woolly hat, make decorations from paper and recycle magazine pages for wrapping.
There's much to be said for the simpler things in life, says TV presenter Kate Humble. Her new book is called 'A Year of Living Simply' (see below) and it's full of great ideas and inspiring stories of people who've stripped the trappings of their lives down to the essentials. She describes how the experience has left them empowered and liberated. The decisions made aren't for everyone, and Kate Humble isn't berating us or campaigning that we should all sell up and follow suit. Instead, these joyful examples are inspiring and encouraging.
So this is yet another book which I think would make a perfect present (because books are the best presents of all, in my opinion!). I've put together some suggestions here and will be adding more as we move through the month.
But I was reminded of an Icelandic Christmas tradition this week. It's called Jolabokaflod, which means Christmas book flood. Books are given to loved ones on Christmas Eve, so that friends and family can stay in together reading, listening to stories and drinking hot chocolate. Doesn't that sound wonderful?