So you’re knee deep in artificial snow and shimmering tinsel, digging your way through a ‘to do’ list, and now you are about to tackle the insurmountable task of stuffing the freezer, fridge and every cupboard in your kitchen to the gills. No? Then the chances are you are not going to be home for Christmas. Perhaps you have other plans but I definitely will be home.

The truth is my Christmas is a pretty simple affair that revolves around creating magical moments for the children but when a friend of mine who lives alone announced that she was going to help out at a homeless centre on Christmas Day my immediate reaction was one of delight because she wasn’t going to be on her own and I know there is something magical about being with people who are less fortunate than ourselves. For one thing, they make you forget your woes and feel blessed.

If you do find yourself in a situation that you are home alone this Christmas, and don’t want to be, perhaps you could volunteer too. Giving your time to someone who will really cherish it is the best gift of all. Isn’t that what Christmas is about anyway? And after you spend some time being of service, it will be wonderful to call your family and share with them how you transformed being alone at Christmas to bringing a little Christmas into some needy hearts. Moreover, you will really see that giving is the ultimate form of receiving.

There are countless opportunities to volunteer and be with other people on Christmas. Just Google “volunteer on Christmas Day” brings up a variety of ways to be of service.  www.volunteerdonegal.ie lists a number of organizations and charities nationwide and offers further information and opportunities within your area. You can also call local charities directly.  They would probably be delighted to hear from you.

On the other hand, you may be quite happy to be alone while the world turns off and disappears for a day. Serene, relaxed, no pressure, no expenses, you can do anything and everything that YOU want to do and you’re totally off everyone’s radar. That’s not the case for Mum’s like me and at this stage in my life that would be the last thing that I would want. Families with children relish in the fuss and fun that is Christmas but in reality Christmas is what you make it. It really is up to you whether you have a merry little Christmas or not, and yes, it can be difficult if you are missing loved ones, feeling the squeeze of the economic crunch or simply don’t feel like celebrating. Still, no matter what your circumstances there’s nothing wrong with wanting to experience the joy of Christmas.

Whatever way you choose to spend it, the most important thing is to not let the image of Christmas dictate your feelings. This time of year is filled with movies and advertisements that oversell and promote false expectations. Focus on what this season is really about: love and gratitude – not presents and parties. In fact, if we can get the silly image of a golden Christmas turkey sitting sizzling in the middle of a crowded dining room then we probably would be much nearer to the truth because family doesn’t always add up to a full house and not every household will be at home for Christmas but what every way you are planning it I hope you all have a Merry Little Christmas Time.