In the spirit of Christmas as a time for reflection, I’ve been thinking about family, friends and the future – and 2010 certainly feels like it’s been a special year for me.

I’ve had opportunity to share time with a number of long-term friends – some from twenty-five years ago, others from secondary school, a couple from University and from my early years in Newcastle – and though these relationships have been distanced by space or time, they’ve returned as warm, lively and fulfilling as they’ve ever been.

I feel more established in a number of social circles too. Particularly within Newcastle’s wonderful open, vibrant techie core and with some brilliant videogame-loving chums who like to meet around the country for drinks, chat and play. And, of course, the old-guard am-dram and comedy folk whose company still lifts me.

And my new friends; during my travels at the beginning of the year, I met some humblingly welcoming people across the world in New Zealand and America – ones who I certainly hope to stay in touch with for social fun and intellectual discussion (perhaps both at the same time).

Certainly not forgetting my family, who have given – and continue to give – support, love, understanding and pleasure. And a special place for my sister, Emma, with her husband, Luke, brought my niece Charlotte into this world at the beginning of the year.

For those who have endured some of the most upsetting personal trauma- I hope you know how much I admire your strength.

I sometimes feel a social or emotional oddball because I find it hard to tell people in my life how much they mean to me. This… I am working on.

So, no matter whether you celebrate a religious Christmas, winterval, festivemas, a couple of days off work, or the high carb splendour of the Flying Spaghetti Monster- please take a moment to think of those you love, and recognise that they most probably think about you.