Christmas Past: Ten Years On

Janice Horton Christmas Ten Years Past


December 2023: I want to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a blessed New Year when it arrives.

I also want to thank you for your friendship and support over this past year.

Many of you are dear old friends and we have a wonderful history together. Some of you are lovely new friends – maybe we met this year on our travels – and I’m delighted you’re all here on my ‘nicest people’ list!

For me, this Christmas is especially poignant because it’s a ten-year anniversary.

It’s exactly ten years since the backpacking husband and I spent a Christmas together with all our three boys in Scotland.

Ten years since we decided to sell everything we owned and travel the world.

But I think back on that wonderful Christmas of 2013 and it makes me smile.

Snowy lane to our cottage in Scotland
Snowy lane to our cottage in Scotland


Happy holiday images flood through my mind: a handmade Christmas wreath on the cottage door. Snow softly falling outside. Bing Crosby crooning ‘White Christmas’ across a kitchen filled with the smell of home cooking and homely warmth emanating from the old Aga cooker.

I remember Christmas cards from family and friends on the shelves and tinsel on the ceiling beams.

An evergreen swag, made from the foliage I’d brought in from the pine forest opposite our cottage, draped over the stone fireplace. A kitchen table laden with fruits and homemade treats.

Photos: Taken 10 years ago for a ‘Prima’ Christmas magazine shoot

And, in the sitting room, a log fire burning. In the corner, a real pine Christmas tree fragrant and sparkling with lights, decked with decades of our families’ tree decorations and surrounded by carefully chosen gifts in various shapes and sizes all wrapped up in tartan gift wrap.

We loved that lovely old cottage deep in the Scottish countryside of Dumfries and Galloway.

We bought the cottage back in 1990 as a derelict shepherd’s bothy from the country estate of the Dukes of Buccleuch, who lived in the nearby castle.

Do read about My Top 10 Scottish Castles in Dumfries and Galloway.

We’d renovated and extended over the years, turning a tiny and remote and once derelict damp and neglected old place, into a cosy country home.

Winter views from our cottage in Scotland
Winter views from our cottage in Scotland

Growing up, it was the only home our boys had ever known and where they’d spent their formative years, attending the local village school, playing in the surrounding forests and hills and glens.

At Christmas, back then, they were alternatively the Three Shepherds’ or the Three Kings in the village Christmas Nativity play!

You can read about our previous life in Scotland in my post ‘A Secret Place in Scotland’.

At Christmas, our boys were either the Three Shepherds’ or the Three Kings’ in the village Christmas Nativity play!


Back in December 2013, husband and I had been empty nesters for a while and that’s when our plan to sell up and travel the world as middle-aged nomads had taken form.

Our eldest and middle sons had been living in the city of Edinburgh while at university.

Having graduated, our eldest had decided to stay in Edinburgh to live and work.

Middle son, graduating two years after his brother, had just accepted a teaching position in South Korea.

Youngest had already been working away for three years in Tenerife and Greece.

I don’t suppose our boys were surprised by our idea of travelling the world long term, because while they were growing up, we’d always prioritised family travel and so they were already well-travelled themselves.

It took a year to sell the cottage, so we had spent that year sorting out the loft, downscaling our belongings and preparing to live out of one small backpack each.

We were moving out in the January of 2014.

But until then, late that December, we were all home for a very special Christmas together in Scotland.

All of us knowing we each had new experiences to look forward to in the New Year.

And it was special. It was perfect.

It was a Christmas to cherish forever in our memories and to keep in our hearts for always.

Janice Horton and doggies at home in Scotland
Back in December 2013, Janice and doggies at home in Scotland

I think back to that Christmas ten years ago and my heart swells with gratitude.

Although, I can also hardly believe that ten years has passed so quickly.

But, of course, there are some things in life that time or distance won’t ever change.

We are still proud parents and Mum and Dad. We love our boys dearly and we are still a tight and loving family unit. We also now have wonderful daughters-in-law and three gorgeous grandchildren!

Over the past ten years, the backpacking husband and I have spent many Christmases abroad – sometimes in Europe and often in hot and tropical places like Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

Sadly, we won’t get to spend Christmas with our family this year, as we are all many miles apart.

But we’ll send gifts and we’ll connect over the airwaves and we’ll video chat over the internet.

Over the past ten years, the backpacking husband and I have spent many Christmases abroad

And, we’ll all look forward to when we get to see each other again in 2024.

And it will be special. It will be perfect.

Wherever you are in the world and however you celebrate, I wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Janice xx

Christmas snow and blue baubles

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