Christmas was always family time filled with love, laughter, noise and good food.
Family came from all over, there were people everywhere. Christmas was the day people put aside differences and were a united loving family.
As I grew up and became a teenager, I became a part of a blended family. Christmases were not always on Christmas Day, but it was still devoted to quality family time, catching up with each other, enjoying each other's company. There would still be a big group sharing lunch on Christmas Day itself, and you would always eat way too much, but love being a part of a big, loving family.
When we had Christmases overseas, we opened our home to others, although I remember a Christmas in Goa and another in New York, where it was just myself and my son Tony and daughter Siobhan. It was awful not having Kerri with us, as if a vital part of our family was missing. In Goa, we joined together with other holidaymakers. In New York, we went to a Mafia Family Italian Restaurant, got way too much food and had it wrapped up and gave it to a homeless man sitting in his wheelchair on the street.
That's all Christmas is now.
Memories of what it used to be, a time focused around family.
Now I feel like the last one standing.
The rest of my family spend Christmas with their new families.
Tony and Kerri are working overseas and not home for Christmas.
It's just Siobhan, my mother and myself trying to make Christmas feel like family time, just the three of us, alienated from the world.
I feel sad.
Christmas has now become a time of sadness, a time of anxiety, a time of loneliness.
The last couple of days my eyes start to well with tears every time I think about Christmas.
Whereas in the past I looked forward to this day with excitement, now I can't wait for it to pass. It has become an agony for my soul.
People say but Christmas is the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Historically it has been proven he wasn't born on Christmas Day. Christmas is and always will be a day to celebrate being a part of a family. Well, that's what it means to me anyway.
I feel like I am no longer a part of a family. I understand that things change over time and the family breaks apart and forms new families and have new family traditions. It just hurts that I am not part of that.
For me family was everything.
Now it is nothing.
As everybody celebrates with their new families, I am the last one standing. The last one to remember when being a part of a large family celebrating Christrmas was everything.
So I'll make the traditional Christmas meal, way too much food as now we only feed three.
I'll shed my tears for the times gone by. Treasure my memories of the shouts of excitement as the children dug into their Christmas stockings, the anticipation as we all gathered around the tree and handed out gifts to each other. I am grateful that I have those memories of family Christmases. The times when I used to agonise over what would be the best. most original gift to buy someone. Because in those days, you bought gifts for every family member, no matter the cost.
I'll wish all a Merry Christmas as that is the expected thing to do.
But this what I have now isn't Christmas. Christmas is about family.
And as the last one standing I'll cherish my memories of family Christmases, love, laughter, joy and togetherness.
Cindy Vine lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She is the author of Not Telling, C U @ 8, Defective, Hush Baby and The Case of Billy B. You can buy her books on Amazon in Kindle or Paperback format.