Heading back to reality after the holidays can be hard

As I start writing this, on the 6th January, it's not the just the Christmas decorations that are on a come down.

Post-Christmas malaise hitting you like a juggernaut of omni-problems and January's role as an austere counterweight to all the December revelry is a familiar trope and a feeling we're all au fait with, but for the emigrés among us who returned home for the holidays, the feeling hits a little harder.

I, for instance, now living in Manchester, got home for a little over a fortnight. At least, that's what the calendar indicated, but I'm convinced I've been swindled by the space time continuum somehow. There's no possible way that lightning fast pop-my-head-round-the-door of a holiday was 16 days long.

There's a lot to pack in to such a short space of time, and that's what makes that great big expanse of January all the worse. While at least you get some degree of solid family time, it's the important people outside that circle that proves problematic. You try and catch up with all your friends, but inevitably there are a few you can't meet up with, and that's vexing. But what's almost worse is the friends you do see, but just barely. When there are a slew of people you want to catch up with, people you might not have seen in ages, a whistle stop visit a mile wide and an inch deep doesn't really cut it. In the season of goodwill to all, you really want to have time to say more than "Merry Christmas!" to them all.

Meetings can also be bittersweet because the geographical distance can show up other forms of distance. When you don't see someone in ages, and you have a long list of developments to share in a short space of time, the new names and new factors you've been missing out on while away can cause considerable lament.

With the new year rattling inexorably on, full of appraisal and longing as much as hope and resolution, the one thing we in the places we've left behind can resolve to do is make sure the links of our life don't become rusted over. "No man is a failure who has friends", so said Clarence the Angel in the Christmas classic It's A Wonderful Life. The festive season may be over, but the effort to make time for the people who matter to us most shouldn't stop, whatever the time, and wherever you are.