It's an enticing picture. You, in a swimsuit, your tummy pixillated, sitting in the blazing sun pulling a cracker with your other half. Christmas in the heat, far away from the rainy UK, glistens like a twinkly, sangria-fuelled mirage over the end of my year. Or at least it did, until I actually booked a Christmas package somewhere hot.
There are things the brochures don't tell you.
They don't tell you just how thin your mother's lips will go when you tell her you're daring to be absent from the Christmas lunch table just this once. "No, fine, lovely, enjoy it," those thin lips will say, but her eyes will be saying You've ruined Christmas for me.
Nor does the enticing literature mention the difficulty of getting your partner with the programme. Suddenly, he'll be Yuletide's number one fan, this lump of bloke who usually buys your present from the nearest department store at 5.59pm on Christmas Eve.
Your friends will grumble. If you have children they simply won't comprehend why anybody would want to be anywhere but home on the big day. "What if Santa can't find us?" they'll sob.
As you come up with a complex explanation about elves and sat navs, you'll wonder why you ever thought it would be less complicated to go abroad, especially when you're faced with buying sufficient presents to keep everybody happy that will also fit in your suitcases.
Stepping off the plane, however, you'll remember why you did this. The sun will stroke your shoulders like a lover. The first time your partner comments on what the weather's doing at home it will be interesting; the hundredth time, less so.
As the complaints pile up – "But it won't snow!"/"I miss tinsel"/"Christmas isn't Christmas without Nana's roast potatoes" – you'll bat them away. You'll point out all the great things about Christmas by the pool. Cocktails on tap. No washing up. The sound of the surf instead of the sound of buses skidding through sleet.
Then, on Christmas morning, you'll pull back the curtains and be greeted by a scene of such glorious blue sky, yellow sand perfection it deserves to be painted. And you will cry.
If you're anything like me, that is.
Suddenly, I wanted a roaring fire, not a roaring sun. I realised too late that the elements of Christmas are seared into my marrow. The crappy stockings, the early morning Bucks Fizz that makes me yip, the opening presents in my dressing gown, the shouting at the dog when he attacks the wrapping paper, the endless mathematical equations to be done before the man-sized turkey is heaved into the oven, the quarrels at the table, the paper hats, the silly jokes, the flames on the pudding, the coma on the sofa before the sandwiches commence. In other words, all the stuff I was running from.
This year I'll still roll my eyes – that's a tradition, after all – but I won't entertain any foolish notions of jumping on a plane.