One thing I found really sad this Christmas was buying presents for my kids. It never used to be a problem, when letters to Santa were meticulously detailed, and you were bound to end up with at least one thing that made their Christmas Day special. And as they got older you knew just from living with them what their hearts most desired.
But now that we don't live together I feel completely out of touch with their interests and tastes - even my daughter's. For the last few years I've rushed round buying shirts and bike gismos and DVDs that I hoped might be just the ticket, but which the boys acknowledged politely and took straight back to Uniglo and HMV.
So this Christmas I gave up. I decided not to stress myself out searching obsessively for the perfect gift, but to give simple, useful stuff: underpants (oops), novels, wine, recipe books (the brilliant Ottolenghi) plus a selection of hard-to-find Middle Eastern ingredients. All a bit impersonal perhaps - and I could see the kids were puzzled.
But for me there was a big bonus: all my energies were focussed on what matters more as the kids get older - not the annual present fest but just enjoying being together. These days it's really rare that all three are at home at the same time, and in the past Christmas has slipped through my fingers in a fug of distractions. Not this year: we played poker and chose our top tunes of 2012 into the wee small hours. And I made one New Year's Resolution: to give them what they really want for their birthdays in 2013. I just have to work out a way of finding out what it is.