I AM writing this from the hinterland between Christmas and New Year, through the fog of a perpetual hangover and wearing pyjamas. Where time is meaningless and anything goes.

Right this very second, I’m debating whether to spark open a can or have my breakfast.

My family aren’t massively into Christmas. We’ve had many lovely times over the years but we’re quite introverted in general and the day often passes without a great deal of pomp or celebration.

I spent this Christmas with my girlfriend’s family, which was quite the opposite. The house felt alive with festive cheer, cocktails and cans were passed around, discarded wrapping paper from incredibly thoughtful presents gathered under our feet, the dugs ran riot – as giddy as four-year-old children, music played, it was unbelievably class.

By the time dinner was served, I was sitting slumped in a chair, allowing a film to wash over me, a glaikit smile on my face, contented as I’ve ever been and feeling like this day should simply last forever.

Last year with my girlfriend’s family was like this too, but this year felt even better. As if everything that was going on in the world didn’t matter, like the house was surrounded by a festive forcefield which was impervious to bad news.

Last year though, I didn’t even make it to dessert as I slunk away to bed without telling anyone, too full of food and bevvy to continue the festivities, passing out in a fully-clothed heap. This year, I was determined not to do such a thing. I’d eat and drink as much as I did the previous year, but I’d soldier on.

As jokes were made about me passing out from last year, I smiled and continued drinking and eating. My stomach begged me to stop. My eyes began to droop, my spirit began to wane. My dug and I seem to have a kind of mind-link that means when I’m ready to go to bed, he can tell and paws at my leg to signal that it’s time for us to say goodnight. He did this and let out a wee yawn as the cheeseboard was passed around.

“Another half an hour,” I told him, spreading pungent cheese onto a cracker.

As an aside to this, I remember the first time I ever came across the concept of a cheeseboard. At a pal’s house once, his well-to-do maw produced one and I panicked. I had never seen such a thing. I had no idea what I was meant to do.

As she brought it into the living room, she offered me first pick from a selection of crackers and cheeses whose names I couldn’t pronounce. Two oddly shaped knives glinted at me, as if they knew I’d be using them wrong. “Eh, am awrite,” I said, deeply offending the hostess.

I made my excuses and went outside to phone my maw, to ask her if she’d ever heard of this and what I was meant to do. It was like a Peter Kay stand-up routine, “His maw’s just came oot wi a cheeseboard! A board ae cheese!” It felt to me like some kind of unknown middle class ritual and I started to worry if maybe I was going to be sacrificed on the board once I was sufficiently full of cheese.

Now though, I’m a bit more of a man of the world. So, when someone produces a cheeseboard, I feel confident enough to say things like, “Aw, gies some ae that brie,” or, “this Wensleydale is dynamite.” I do feel though that any cheeseboard would be improved with the addition of, say, a nice lurid yellow cheese slice.

I made it through all the courses and slumped back onto the couch. All eyes were on me as the family watched me nurse what would be my final can of the evening. “You okay?” my girlfriend asked me as my eyes began to close. “Aye, am fine,” I asserted. My belly was becoming more bloated. If I ate one more thing, I was sure I would spew it right back up.

At the sight of a box of chocolates being produced, I had to make my excuses and leave under the guise of going to the toilet. I crawled into bed, happy that I’d lasted an hour longer than I did last year.

Writing this has made me realise what an incredibly fortunate position I’m in. I miss my own family a lot but I’m very lucky to be so welcomed into another. I said in last week’s column that there’s cause to be cautiously optimistic for what 2021 might bring and I stand by it.

Whatever way Christmas looked for you, however Hogmanay is shaping up, I really hope things will improve for us all and that we can all pull together and make next year better. I hope you all have a belter.

I might have a whisky now and see if I can take the abstract concept of 2020 for a square go.