Loss of a loved one makes you look at Christmas from a different perspective
Christmas takes on a completely different hue after you lose someone you love. Interspersed with the festive glittery red and golds are shades of grey and black, ready to overshadow the fun and frolics at any moment.
Of course you don't realise this until after you experience it personally. People who have, can warn you about appreciating your loved ones and enjoying every minute you spend with them but the reality is, unless you actually go through it, you don't really have a clue what they're talking about.
Christmas for me has always been about Santa and presents and parties, eating and drinking too much, laughing, watching TV, people calling in for drinks, catching up and having fun.
This year is different. It is the first without my mother. The first of everything after you lose someone is horrible-the first birthday, the first anniversary, the first Christmas. Everything becomes 'Before' and 'After' and one thing is for sure, nothing is ever the same again.
I always thought that people who hated Christmas were big miserable Killjoys who liked to moan just for the sake of it when really their 'Bah Humbug' attitude was a way of covering up their pain.
Loss makes you look at things from a completely different perspective. For all my joking about the presents I'd like and won't get, this festive season I have spent a lot of time thinking about loneliness and how endemic it is at this time of year.
People can be lonely for so many reasons. They may have no loved ones and are afraid to reach out to ask for help, they could have lost someone, they could be without the means to have a Christmas, they could be homeless, jobless, feeling worthless. And Christmas may just be the catalyst that pushes them over the edge.
Spare a thought for those not as fortunate as you this Christmas. But don't just spare a thought, spare a few moments of your time. Call it a random act of kindness if you like, but stop and think, 'but for the grace of God go I.' Reach out to just one person you think may be lonely and let them know they're not alone.
If you could make even one person feel better about themselves-less isolated, more loved, wouldn't that be celebrating the true spirit of Christmas?
And yes, there will be Christmas in my house. There will be fairy lights and roaring fires, selection boxes and mulled wine, people calling in and presents exchanged. Except this year, it will all sparkle that little bit less.