Whilst it is quite difficult to avoid all the rampant consumerism at this time of year, there's one sure fire way to pause and take a moment away from worrying about the materialistic problems caused by our species.
So, instead of dashing to the shops for a last-minute present, the latest must-have gadget or never-to-be-repeated bargain, I downed tools and just stopped.
It was mid-afternoon on the midwinter solstice, a turning point in Nature's calendar, and a reminder that before we became obsessed with 'stuff', for millennia we had been content with the simple pleasure of marking the 'shortest' day of the year. Admittedly, since we're humans, we've had to dress it up in all manner of ritual and custom (and not all of them were healthy for all participants).
How and ever, yesterday afternoon saw me stood by the front door, gazing southwestwards with a slightly furrowed brow. There was a band of cloud on the horizon, which was going to make it impossible to detect the actual moment of sunset, and I was also fiddling about with my camera and tripod (a combination which rarely sees the light of any day).
A weather app informed when sunset should be for my location, but at the appointed time of 15.15, for all I knew, the sun could've been sticking its thumbs in its ears and waggling its fingers at me.
The local Starling flock were busy going through their pre-roosting ritual over the barn roofs next door, another thing which happens with regularity but which I rarely take the time to observe.
Now that I thought about it, the cloud would probably add a little something to the occasion, so I relaxed and just savoured the still air, the sounds around me and the unfolding spectacle of the solsticial sunset.
All the best for the festive season, folks.