There's no doubt I'm feeling reflective. December has arrived. Yesterday I battled with the scratchy branches of our Christmas tree to decorate the house.
I have been squirreling away Santa presents for months, and making the children have as magical a Christmas as possible (including Elf on the Shelf activities, which seemed a good idea when I started it).
But I suppose like a lot of people I'm finding it difficult to get fully into the festive spirit - because, as for many people, 2016 has been such a turbulent year for me.
I have been trying to process everything that happened - being one of those hokey sorts who believes every thing in life is a learning experience - and figure out what way I'm supposed to have progressed through the shit storm that 2016 brought.
World affairs aside (because, seriously? That's beyond depressing) - this year has been a challenging one personally for a host of reasons, many of which I have mentioned on this blog before.
Not least of course has been my decision to leave the relative safety net of my 18 year strong journalism career, to focus on my writing career, my family and my health.
There have been so many (SO. MANY.) personal challenges that I have felt like a reluctant passenger on a very high, very fast, very boke-inducing rollercoaster.
From personal relationships to friendships, to illness of family members, to concerns about challenges facing those I love - it has been one hell of a c year and I'm well aware it isn't over yet.
But it has taught me a number of things, which, if you don't mind, I'd like to share with you now.
I know all this is a bit mushy - but if you can't be mushy at Christmas, when can you?
Thank you all for reading, for chatting, for laughing, for supporting.
I bought a sideboard. An old, musty sideboard which has been lovingly up-cycled and given a new lease of life.
I bought the sideboard to go in what will become my dining room. Before now the room (the second reception room in our 50s Terrace) has been an odd mix of a playroom, a home office and a general dumping ground which I have loathed and despised from the moment we bought this house.
I have never found that room nice to be in. It was not a relaxing place to be. It was the kind of place that was frequently cluttered with piles of paperwork, stacks of books here and there and broken bits of plastic toys which no longer held any purpose and were probably a health hazard.
I'm sure behind an old toy Ikea kitchen there was probably a mouldy Wotsit from the neolithic age. I hated it. HATED it.
And it had the kind of mismatched furniture that set my teeth on edge.
So, when the mid-life-crisis hit and I decided to become a full time writer, one of my plans was to finally make this room lovely - as I will be spending more time at home than ever before.
And I bought a sideboard.
It has already given me so much joy, Not least because it reminds me of the sideboard my grandparents used to have in their house when I was a child.
In that sideboard, on the left hand side, there were all the treats the world had ever seen. Biscuits. Fancy biscuits. Biscuits my granny would dole out to us when we were visiting and looking particularly cute. Biscuits that were the precursor to the 10p that would be slipped into our hands before we left for home.
I had such warm memories of that sideboard - of that house, of the times we spent there - that when I saw what I now deem the sideboard of dreams, I knew I had to have it.
I had to have it and use it to make my home feel more homely. I have become obsessed with the idea of a formal dining room. No more TV at dinner time. No disappearing to our different parts of the house at meal times.
I have plans for family dinners, or sitting around together playing board games, and watching the kids doing their homework and, when they are being very cute, taking the biscuits out of the cupboard and offering them one.
I'll ignore the fact my children are fussy eaters. Or that the boy (12) will want to do his homework in his room. I'll ignore the fact that any biscuits in this house have to go under virtual lock and key due to biscuit eating monsters (I include myself in that group).
I'll ignore everything other than the warm feeling of nostalgia - the hopeful glow of nice family times.
Yes - a midlife crisis. A sideboard.
Things are getting strange here on Walton's Mountain.
I took my two kids to see the new Ghostbusters movie this week.
My brother and my niece and nephew also came along. I'll be the first to admit that my initial feelings about the movie weren't great. Why mess with a classic?
It didn't need a reboot. The original remains one of the best movies made ever. (Says me, and I'm right, so there).
But I decided to give it a go - and I'm glad I did. It was just good fun. Just a fun, funny, little bit scary, girl power-y kind of a movie and I loved it . I genuinely took a fit of the giggles at one scene and laughed out loud many times throughout. (And not the fake kind of a laugh you do when watching kids' movies with the childer and trying to let them know 'That bit there - that bit - that was funny...Look!')
My brother had first suggested bringing the kids along as Ghostbusters was one of the first movies he remembers going to see in "the pictures" (the old Strand Cinema in Derry).
It was such a magical experience as a child and he wanted to share some of that magic with his nieces and nephews.
As we stood outside waiting to go in, my brother and I became that sad pair of old relatives who begin a "in my day" conversation.
Oh yes, we told them how the old cinema had just two screens. Their eyes widened when we told them you didn't even get popcorn. You brought your own sweet, a packet of chewits or, if your parents were feeling particularly flush, you got a packet of poppets from the concession booth.
In the interval (the interval, for the love of God.... a blessed thing which allowed over excited children and pelvic floor challenged mothers the chance to go for a wee without missing a key scene of the movie) - we might have got a Rocket Ice Lolly - if we were very lucky.
To get in to the Strand in Derry you often had to queue in the street. I remember on one gut wrenching occasion queuing for half an hour only to get near the top and find out chosen movie - The Care Bears Movie - was sold out.
I was distraught.
But there was little like the lowering of the lights, the frankly naff ads for local shops and then the start of the music to signal a movie was about to start.
You knew you were seeing something out of the ordinary and God love my parents they made sure we saw all the classics - the Star Wars movies, Superman, Ghostbusters - the classics that made a childhood magical.
Today's children won't ever really understand that. They can switch their widescreen TVs on and watch a movie almost whenever they want. Kids movies are churned out at a rate of knots and believe me, from my experience they usually err on the very sucky side. (Tips for the uninitiated, avoid in particular Marmaduke or anything with a Wimpy Kid in the title).
So when you get a movie that just makes you (as in me) feel like that excited child again then it's a rare and brilliant thing.
And when my seven year old nephew turned to me and said "This movie is so good, it's giving me the shakes" - I knew exactly what he meant.
So - my recommendation is, go and see Ghostbusters. Enjoy the innocent fun it brings. Enjoy the nostalgia. If you can find a pocket of Poppets slip them in your bag and bring them too.
Why Skirting the Issue?
For 14 years I wrote my Skirting the Issue column for the Derry Journal each Friday - I may have moved on, but I still have opinions!