Biting cold and fingers too numb to feel through your gloves. Ears that feel like they’ve been slapped by the wind a few too many times, and a coat and scarf that don’t seem to be doing a thing.
At least, that was what stood out most for the few of my friends who decided to brave London to see in 2012. Not the stunning, rather dazzling display that burst across the night above the Thames, nor the military precision with which that multi-million bunch of lights was pulled off to some pretty epic music, but how cold they were.
Of course it didn't make them feel better to hear what daring exploits I got up to on the eve of 2012. I, of course, went all out and had a rave. Quiet, unsuspecting Dorset may never be the same again.
Where was I? With Cat and Sarie (my sisters) in mum and dad’s living room, each with our feet soaking in a pretty potent brew of something suitably aromatic and relaxing, a glass of cava in one hand and snuggled into obscenely fluffy dressing gowns. As opposed to last year and the usual night out with our friends, we’d decided to have a pamper night in – and with the house to ourselves, it was pretty brilliant. And also weird.
We chatted and laughed, and used face masks, and did our nails, and chatted some more, and watched a cheesy movie, and drank bubbly, and ate food… all the good things that a girls’ night in should be.
Why was it weird, you ask? Many of you who know me will know I adore my sisters. They're incredible. We get on really well (we didn't always, but not living together does wonders for relationships...) We're usually as thick as thieves. I loved having the chance to have some quality time with them before we head back to our respective homes.
It was weird because 2012 is going to have a lot of changes. My sister’s getting married in May (yeah, two days before my birthday!), and she'll no longer be one of the three muskasisters. She'll be a Mrs, and no longer a miss.
So it was weird to have what is probably one of our last nights like this. Don't get me wrong - she’ll still be my sister, we'll still have pamper nights and spend time together, and she'll probably continue to call us and worry about us and give us advice (short of murdering someone, I’m pretty sure I can’t get rid of her) but it's going to be different. We've been so used to being the most important to her that it's weird knowing that we'll be sharing.
And the strangest thing of all? That I've gotten used to that fact. That it feels right that life changes, and becomes different, and brings new facets to relationships that we somehow expected to remain the same. It's so easy to forget how exciting that is and just stubbornly dig my heels in and refuse to move.
I'm so like that, sometimes, especially in my relationship with God. This year's been hard. I've had some real ups and downs, things that have knocked me and things that have made me beam for days on end. It's easy to try and hold onto the things we think should be solid, thank you very much, or how else are we supposed to adjust?
And gently, firmly, I've come to realise how many things I still depend on outside of Him. I'm aware that it's God, not God + something, but when I find it hard to let go of the way I am, or the the things that Rachel Elizabeth Evans wants, it becomes obvious just how hard I'm holding onto things. It's hard to change, but slowly and surely, that's exactly what's happening. I'll be a work in progress for the rest of my life, and it's great that my family and friends are (usually!) happy to stick around to experience that happening - no matter how bumpy the ride!
So, 12th May, Sarie will be walking up the aisle to marry one of the most solid guys I know. I think he's going to make her really happy, and to cherish her through both happy times and grumpy times. ;) Jake, I'm not sure I can ever thank you enough for having the good sense to fall head-over-heels for her!
I’m making her cake, which is flipping terrifying, and I’m probably going to be wearing a suitably wedding-y but lovely dress with my feet squeezed into high heels I can't walk in and my hair bullied into submission with half the imported supply of hairspray in Britain. I'm still searching for the catalogue that I know is somewhere, with an aide listed under Bridesmaids that's titled Elegance and Gracefulness - now, if I could slip into that, it would be perfect.
Failing that, though, I'll just enjoy the day. Here's to a new year full of blessings, challenges that you meet head on with those who love you, and to a God who is faithful through both weddings and wine.