It is Christmas Eve. Just one sleep to go.
The last shopping day is almost over.
That is the commercial side of Christmas, the success of which is judged by bankers and retailers.
Tomorrow is a day to put those aspects aside to show peace, goodwill and caring.
Homes long devoid of children will ring with noise as little ones here for the holidays discover the goodies left out for them.
As someone once said, one of the most glorious messes is the one created in the living-room on Christmas Day.
The most valued part of the day, though, is being together and sharing. Time is a more precious gift than anything that can be wrapped with ribbons and bows.
Look at the faces of people who usually sit alone in church, joined at this time of year by sons and daughters, even grandchildren.
Having those loved ones home for Christmas means more than anything those children can put under the tree.
Time is the essence of Christmas: the time we take to be together, to visit an old friend, to prepare a small gift for a neighbour.
Those of us able to spend time as part of a family during the next few days should remember what a privilege it is. We should be thankful for all the people who have worked hard to keep that unit together.
Remember the families who will not be able to feel the same joy as they come together because someone is not among them. Someone who has been killed in an accident; someone who has taken their own life because of their overwhelming sense of being unable to live another day.
Some families will spend the day apart because some of the members have decided they no longer feel good about each other.
Some of those ructions are so bad that judges and lawyers have spent many hours trying to sort them out.
It is a crazy end to the year, as Christmas also marks the start of the summer holidays and much of the country shuts for a month.
The stress builds and some of us decide we just don't like Christmas.
So take time tomorrow, and the following days, to remember what is important about these days. They have major significance for Christians, who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. For those less inclined to follow that path, it should still be a time of peace, goodwill and caring.
Keep it simple and look after yourself and each other.
- The Marlborough Express