I'm one of those for whom this time of year is full of mixed feelings. Although I do have beautiful children I don't have a warm or connected family.
Divorce for us means that we get the kids for half the day each depending on their dad's shifts.
As a child, a broken family for me meant that I learned from a young age not to have many, if any, expectations of the time of year. As I grew up I learned to revel in my care worker jobs, never being able to commit to Christmas plans means I was able to disconnect from any arguments about where to spend the all important day.
Being a parent brings with it other pressures. Mums are meant to be obsessively cleaning, buying, wrapping, baking etc. I can barely scrape myself off the sofa. I'm wiped out with something viral as well as signed off with stress let alone managing my daily pain.
I have boxes of things I've bought for crimbo but cannot face lifting them, going through them or organising them to wrap. I have cards to post, I have written them but I cannot get my brain to accept the next stage, popping in photos of the kids, addressing envelopes, stamping and then going to the post office. I dread getting there only to be told that I have missed the last posting day!
I am slightly reassured by a thread on Mumsnet today, where women competitively brag about their slatternly, or not so slatternly, ways.
I was a slattern for years, part of me was proud but part deeply wished I wasn't. I never learned anything from my mum, not even how to keep house at a very basic level, so having run away at sixteen I had no role model and spent my teens, twenties and thirties living in squalor.
I started to improve once I'd decided that my life was going nowhere fast.
I then married my now ex husband who had very high standards of tidiness.
I became ill while we were together, my ill health further compounded by my two pregnancies. He took sole charge of the cleaning and tidying.
I railed against his standards but when we split I was left trying to keep house to his standards rather than my own previous standards.
What had happened? I, the dyed in the wool slattern, had suddenly become house proud!
Sadly I didn't have the fitness to maintain his standards.
I am trying and it does wipe me out but I wonder if I am paying it too much heed.
I know the house won't be perfect for Christ's birth celebrations but honestly, does The Holy Babe actually give a monkey's? Do my two holy babes actually give a monkey's? Their dad would be clearing up around us while we opened presents and I was begging him to just sit down and chill with us.
This year I have wanted so much to prove how we can manage as a small family with me, a non driver, non sailor, at the helm. I let our train become derailed by money worries, work shiz and an unsuitable man.
This year, instead of crying over pain, men, work, money and substandard house care, I want my gift to our family to be my awesome presence, not just my awesome presents.
Merry Christmas, have a good one! What will your gift be, to yourself and to your family?