I remember with fondness and sadness in equal measure, how I always looked forward to Christmases past.
I remember how I shared the joy and anticipation with my little ones as they savoured the first chocolate drop of their advent calendars.
I remember the pine-scented aromas wafting through the house and the neatly wrapped presents crowding the bases of gloriously dressed Christmas trees.
I remember one particular Christmas morning when I was awakened by my excited 6 year old son Mattie, stomping into the bedroom asking ´"is it morning already?" I jumped out of bed, picked him up and hugged and kissed him as we made our way to the kitchen to prepare his beloved cup of tea (he still drinks it by the gallon). Every other morning I would hand him his cooled-down tea in his spouted cup, turn on the TV and he'd sit on my lap, gulping non-stop until the last drop, as we watched children's programmes - but not on Christmas morning. He would run to the stack of presents, cup in hand and with a Cheshire-cat smile on his beautiful face.
Those fond memories of a time gone by are what will make this Christmas particularly painful. I will wake up in an apartment devoid of decorations and mountain-pine fragrance and of the sounds of present wrappers being ripped apart. And, most importantly, the sound of a child's ecstatic voice echoing through the house.