Christmas isn't about what's under the tree, it's about who is around it

This time tomorrow we'll all be knee deep in ripped wrapping paper and a couple of Bucks Fizz down.  Presents will be exchanged, Christmas wishes text, and all the food eaten.

But for most people, there will be someone missing.  Whether it be someone who has passed away, a family member serving in the armed forces, someone working for the emergency services or volunteering their time to help others, or someone who is living in another country.  As we take our time to be thankful for our loved ones with us, we must also spare a thought for those who are without loved ones at this special time of year.

Whilst this has been a mega exciting year for me, it has also been tinged with sadness.  We lost my nana in July so this Christmas will be a strange one for us, especially my dad and grandpa.  Other people close to me have also lost relatives recently, and Christmas will be especially hard for them.

No amount of presents under the tree can make up for the empty chairs around the table on Christmas Day.  I'm sure all those who are missing people this Christmas Day would swap every item wrapped perfectly under their tree to share the day with their loved one.

Then there are those who are working hard to keep us all safe and well-provided for.  Those working as paramedics, police, fire fighters, doctors and nurses, in the armed forces, at restaurants, and more.  So many people take for granted having Christmas off work, finishing on 'Mad Friday' and not returning to work until January.  But many professions do not stop over Christmas and, if anything, are busier than the rest of the year.

Last Christmas, my brother stayed in America and we didn't get to see him.  It was his own fault, so we couldn't feel too sorry for him, but we still missed him greatly on Christmas Day.  This year, however, he managed to keep his passport in tact and is home to spend the festive period with us.  Not seeing him last year reminded me how important family is at Christmas time.

I said last year I felt that the true meaning of Christmas had been lost somehow, with Facebook and Instagram being filled with pictures of piles of presents and hashtags of #luckygirl.  I'm guilty of being materialistic, as I'm sure everyone else is, but last year reminded me it is about more than just presents.

I love giving people presents on Christmas morning and seeing their faces when they open them.  I love spoiling my family and friends.  But presents are just a small part of what Christmas is about.  Christmas is about spending time with family and friends, showing people you love them and remembering those who aren't with us.

For some people, Christmas is the hardest time of year.  I remember one of my teachers at primary school always saying to me that Christmas wasn't always a happy time for some people, and not everyone enjoyed it.  Some people prefer to ignore everything Christmas and keep their heads down until it is all over.  It can be a time that reminds those of pain, loss and heartbreak.

Christmas isn't about what is under the tree, it's about who is around it.

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