I guess I'm struggling just a little with the entry into a new year.
It's not that I'm not very happy and at home in my parishes,where there are challenges and joys aplenty to keep me busy for the coming year and well beyond.
It's not that I don't love living in the vicarage, where the space has just seemed "right" for us from the word go. It's a wonderful home, and during the week when the Dufflepud and I occupy it on our own, and might have expected to feel a teeny bit lost in a family house, it welcomes and enfolds us most beautifully.
This corner of Gloucestershire suits me just fine...and with open hillsides and ancient woodland only minutes away, it suits the dogs too.
So, really, there is nothing to complain about as I dip my foot into the waters of 2009 - and believe me I do know this, really I do.
It's just that, as always, Christmas has been a time to spend with my so-loved children. We've seen each other day after day after day. I've gone to bed knowing they would emerge from their nests sometime in the course of the following day. Bedrooms that have been tidy and chilly during term time have spilled over with music and colour and messy life. Cats have been cuddled and dogs danced with, and there have been hugs on tap whenever they might be needed or just enjoyed.
But, quite rightly, it's nearly time for the students to return to uni...and each time they go back I'm a little more aware that their lives are mostly lived elsewhere. These Christmas days have been a brief illusory return to the time when our worlds mostly overlapped. I'm just wondering whether that lesson in letting go has to be faced at every opportunity throughout their lives. I know (heavens, I really do know) that parenthood is all about working myself out of a job (in that respect it is in many ways akin to parish ministry) but knowing that, I don't really have to like it...or those milestones that remind me that even my youngest child will only be here at home for a couple more years.
There we are. Having had a little whine, I now feel much better - and ready to get on with the business of forming a resolution or two.
Stand back, 2009...I'm on my way.