I know that it's not like that for everyone. And I know that for many people it's still a magical, family time where dreams come true and all is well. Wrapped in family traditions and bonhomie, you'd have to be a miserable bastard to not like Christmas.
For me, these days, it's weird.
I have no traditions, I have no place to go. Every year I think, hmmmm, next year I'll most likely be in an adult relationship which will put a different spin on things. Maybe I can lig onto his traditions and find some fun in this time of year again. But obviously that never happens. The best Christmases I've spent have been with a close friend, she made me welcome into her family and her traditions and it was lovely.
So, without a family of my own, or a partner to distract me, it can be a period of enduring rather than enjoyment.
Since my father died 14 years ago, the magic of Christmas is an elusive beast. It is what it is. No doubt I should be over it by now. No doubt it shouldn't feel like a red hot poker of pain underneath my ribs to think about Christmas and how much I used to love it. It shouldn't make me miss him anymore than I already do. But I'm an imperfect human being who is apparently not brilliant at dealing with grief and loss. So, here I am. Facing another year of feeling itchy and out of place wherever I am.
I feel apart from it. Like it's a big club I haven't been invited into. I see people getting excited but I just don't feel it. I'm confused at people decorating their houses now. It seems bizarre to me. But it's me who's out of kilter with the world, not the world being odd.
I have to fight against feelings of envy and bitterness. I KNOW. I shouldn't be saying that. I should be all magnanimous and OK with it all. It tends to remind me of what I don't have instead of what I do have. Which is one of my many issues anyway. Christmas basically is hard. And I'm tired of it.
So this year, I couldn't quite face a day of emotional numbness in the face of the pressure to have FUN and, instead of wallowing as is my wont, decided to do something different.
I've never done the whole volunteering on Christmas Day thing. To me, it's something that happens on telly. Or in a film. It reminds me of Claire in Scrooged. I've signed up to the only thing I could find on Craggy Island, which is a Christmas Day lunch hosted by the Salvation Army. I'm obviously terrified of organised religion in all its forms, but if you can't hang with religious people on Christmas Day, when can you? Right?
So I will be spending Christmas Day with a host of vulnerable people. I'm not sure what that means, but I think the homeless, the lonely, the disparate. A group that I should fit right in with I think. I will be doing whatever is needed, which will most likely be cleaning and a whole hell of washing up.
And for the first time in, oooh, about 14 years, I'm excited about Christmas Day.
I might even put the tree up before Christmas Eve this year. Maybe.