Christmas. New Year.
A really festive time for celebrating. For JOY. After all, " 'tis the reason for the season".
Yet, beneath the surface there's a melancholy. For each of us.
We may not be able to express it; but I see it as well as you do, whether you choose to acknowledge it.
Mine started yesterday, brought on when I left my parents at the airport. My mother is always delighted to see us. It wasn't easy for her to accept my partner, and me, her gay son. But she does now, with the support and love of our family. For her it was the fear of the shame it would bring. The unknown of what others would think.
Now she knows what they think. They love Xfe. Not maternal or family love (yet). Just love him as a special, thoughtful guy.
But my Mum loves him as family. She loves him because, with a mother's eye, she sees how much true happiness he brings me; and she sees he is genuine.
She is especially delighted to see us at Christmas, and never more than this year, one that has been very difficult for her.
When I left her at the airport, she said, tearfully, "Thank you for making my Christmas".
What I thought, but failed to say, was "no - you made Christmas. You made it what it is for me, all my excitement and delight. You taught me the warmth and comfort of family".
She burst into tears when we said goodbye. She doesn't usually - although she did do the same thing in November, the last time we visited.
I said to Xfe that I think it's because each time she says goodbye now, she thinks that it will be the last time she will see me. It's a very real fear for her... When she was in hospital earlier this year (for the best part of 2 months), the night before her 3rd operation, she thought she was not going to see the next day.
Her fear was so real that the hospital phoned her oldest sister, at 2am, to come sit with her.
My Mum told my aunt that she was sad that she wouldn't see me again; that she felt that she would not recover from the op she was scheduled to have before I would be back in Scotland.
My sadness at Christmas comes knowing that the promise and expectation of Christmas present can never match the ghost of golden Christmases past.
When I was a child. When all I wanted for Christmas from Santa was a red balloon.
Xfe is in the shower, back from Yoga. We have our presents to open. Yet I know that the promise of wrapped gifts waiting to be opened will never match the reality and the inevitable disappointment that expectation has not been met.
I realise that it's nothing to do with the gifts themselves, rather the unattainable ideal of Christmas past.
The comfort of childhood, of the safety of being dependent. Loved, warm, content, and not having to face (or even exposed to) the reality of life's varied and difficult challenges.
We all deal with Christmas and the melancholy it brings in different ways. Some of us escape.
Others have to or choose to spend it alone (plans don't always work out that way however). Some put up with a family Christmas before the short sharp shock of real life has to be faced again.
But right now I can't dwell on it. I'm going to open some presents...