Although the children and Graham are still ploughing on at work and at school - revising for science exams, writing up computer science coursework and making presentations to the Board of Directors - there are a few hints of Christmas starting to appear around here.
Olivia is appalled at Graham and my refusal to put up the tree so far. But in fact, it is going up tomorrow - an early record for us. The tree makes the house feel so cluttered and cramped it rarely goes up before the 22nd December. However, there are twinkly lights around all the front windows, up and down the stairs, and around the railings and in the bay bush at the front of the house - they went up a couple of weeks ago, as they look pretty and don't take up any space.
As a diversion from complaining about the lack of tree, Olivia made a giant advent calendar on her bedroom door - filling each envelope with a fat marshmallow or a handful of chocolate coins.
I've baked mince pies, bought clementines, and done some secret making and wrapping of presents this week. Tomorrow I am going on a long yomp through Epping Forest to gather some foliage for a wreath.
Little, by little, the festive season begins to draw us in - as a subtle, seasonal shift, rather than as a loud, hectic, explosion of stress. That's just how it should be in my book.