I make no bones about the fact that I love Christmas. I love seeing excited children, festive lights and carol singers.
And yet I have known sad Christmases. My father died 6th December 1995, my mother died 5th December 2006 and my only sister died 30th December 2010. Those three Christmases were not joyful, just something to be endured.
On Wednesday I gave the eulogy at the funeral of a very old friend. The last few months have been grim for her and for her family as Parkinson's disease exerted its stranglehold. There was the sense of merciful release for her but there is deep bereavement for her husband, their two children and their seven grandchildren. This Christmas will be difficult for them.
And it will be difficult for many others too. Some will face a first Christmas alone after the death of someone they love. Others will be alone because of family disagreements or long distances. Some would maybe prefer to be alone rather than have to be jolly in a large family group.
Others face debt because of Christmas spending. For still more this is a time of greater temptation from drink or drugs, gambling or other excesses.
My own Christmas (after I have been to church) will be totally alone, not "just me and my hubby" or "just us and the kids" and when this first happened I had to develop strategies to cope but now I enjoy it. However, I shall be thinking of my friend's husband who doesn't really want to go to his family, and of another friend whose children live thousands of miles away and they (and anyone else who is struggling) will be in my prayers.