This time last month, Downton Abbey went out in style with a strong season 6 finale which wrapped up most of the series' big stories - like whose arms Mary would end up in - but still left a few open doors and unanswered questions, not least of all what would become of eternal spinster Lady Edith. (Here's my recap of the finale in case you missed it.)
And although all good things must come to an end, we needed one final Christmas in the company of the Crawleys, a proper chance to say goodbye. Here's the trailer for the Christmas 2015 episode...
This week new images were released from the ep, so break them down and examine what they mean for the big finale.
1. Thomas is graduating Downton
One of the threads which ran throughout season 6 was Thomas' uncertain future at Downton - or rather, away from Downton. Although the season was basically one long redemptive arc for Thomas, it was perhaps a case of too little, too late, and even among the downstairs staff nobody seemed to have too much sympathy for the long-serving underbutler when he discovered he'd be moving on.
In Thomas' own words, "I arrived here as a boy; I leave as a man". Not only does he seem to be on good terms with Robert and the family, he even manages a smile for Bates...
Has hell frozen over? This is not the Thomas we know. Has he finally sourced a new job elsewhere, and will Baxter be going with him?
2. Will Anna and Bates come full circle?
Anna's pregnancy survived a couple of scares in season 6, and the time period covered by the Christmas episode (July through to December) guarantees that she'll be ready to drop at some point during the special.
After six seasons of constant heartbreak, bad fortune and extended periods of false imprisonment for both Anna and Bates, will they finally luck out and deliver a happy, healthy child? Fingers crossed...
3. Did Mary make the right choice?
Personally, the most disappointing aspect of the final season was Mary's marriage to Talbot. It seemed insane that her chemistry with brother-in-law and all-round voice of reason and brilliant human being Tom Branson was so palpable, and yet after weeks of constructing the possibility of Mary and Tom being a thing, she simply made the decision in the space of one episode to be with a man who had so many issues.
This still from the Christmas episode suggests Tom is still playing the third wheel in the relationship, whilst the synopsis reveals that Talbot continues to struggle adjusting in the wake of his friend Charlie's death on the track. Is there hope for Manson (that's Mary and Branson, FYI) after all?
4. Is Carson's job on the line?
Mr. Carson has been at Downton his entire career and most of his life, but change is afoot, and one exchange in the trailer seems quite revealing...
Robert, to Carson: "I hope you're not too unhappy about the way things have turned out..."
Carson: "The world is a different place to the way it was, my Lord, and Downton must change with it."
Although this echoes the general sentiments of the sixth season as a whole, could it be that the Crawleys no longer require a butler? Expect big emotion if that's how the special plays out.
5. And finally... Edith
Lady Edith may be entirely hopeless, but over the seasons, and particularly this year, I've found myself really rooting for her, and I was a bit devastated when she never got her happy ending with Bertie Pelham.
The good news? Filming for the Christmas special took place at Alnwick Castle, which doubles as Brancaster, the Marquess of Hexham's residence. That means we'll certainly be seeing Bertie again, and so you'd imagine a reunion is on the cards for Edith. There's hope for our favourite spinster yet. Let's just hope her first meeting with Bertie's mother goes smoothly...
Bonus: Guess who's back...
Yes, it's the return of the one and only...
Lady Rose! Back from New York with her husband Atticus Aldridge in tow, has Rose demured now that she has a ring on her finger, or will she still be the same free spirit who loved nothing better than to cause trouble for the Crawleys?
The Downton Abbey Christmas Special airs December 25th at 20:45 on ITV in the UK, and next year on PBS stateside. Will you be watching?