It's New Years Eve as we write and once again we find ourselves on our own. This seems to have been the story of Christmas for us this year. Our original plans were scuppered by our friends 'outlaws' who forced them off to Durban. Failing any further invites we decided to do our own Christmas and bought the turkey etc. only to receive a half hearted 'sympathy invite' very late on. Christmas day was great, Joel was able to open his presents at his speed and play with each one before moving onto the next so he wasn't swamped. We had a lovely Turkey dinner in the evening under the stars in the garden.

However, the rest of the 'holiday season' here has been a very lonely time and we're left feeling quite cross about it. We had a few offers along the lines of; "We'll give you a call and get you around for a braai" but they have all been empty promises and have left us feeling quite flat. To top it all we've had very little contact from friends in the UK, except for a few notable exceptions -Thanks Sal, you're a Star!!!! Our tally of Christmas cards this year is quite sad!

Part of our frustration is the enforced holiday. The church office closes from lunchtime Christmas eve until Jan 4. Normally we would be back at work in this time and wouldn't have time to reflect on how lonely we've been. Equally however, we were warned that Somerset West is very cliquey and introverted and that many, many people go away for the whole Christmas period, so as such we aren't taking this too personally. It has also made us really aware that friendships must be our biggest goal in 2005. Even if it means a lot of work for us, it will be worth it to meet more people and hopefully to establish strong friendships.

Hope your Christmas period was good.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Lots of love

Dean & Paula


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