There's a certain guilt that engulfs me on Christmas Day. It's not the overindulging in food and booze - we should never feel guilty about that - it's usually because I'm not with my family.
I live in Auckland and my family are scattered around Southland and Otago. They always choose someone to host and those who can turn up for a day of celebration, which usually consists of making sure the kids are happy with their haul from Santa and a catch-up with the big questions about life and relationships.
Then, if the kids allow, everyone has an afternoon siesta so they are ready for round two.
Booking a ticket and flying to Southland on Christmas Eve is usually very expensive, and I'd rather spend that money on presents for the nieces and nephews.
I've worked on the telly or radio on Christmas Day for many years, so I have had a pretty good excuse, but I still can't help but think the family suspect I'm avoiding them.
If they are reading this, I'm not - it's just sometimes we can't come home for Christmas and this year there will be many that face the same situation.
As the years have gone by I'm reminded when I'm working that I'm not the only Christmas orphan.
Retailers usually only get Christmas Day off as they prepare for the Boxing Day sales. Hospitality workers work extended hours to cash in on the influx of visitors, and emergency services actually get busier as we frolic around with new scooters, bikes and water toys – they too probably juggle with the guilt of not being with their loved ones but wanting to maintain their jobs.
This year, in particular, I can't help but think of those who can't actually go home to their native countries due to Covid travel restrictions. I have one friend who is having to head overseas to see her family due to illness and has had to use all her savings to pay for flights and quarantine when returning.
She's lucky she has the funds to even consider that – for many it won't be the case and that leaves thousands around the country who will rely on "adopted" family Christmas days.
I once hosted my own orphans' Christmas and was blown away by how many people turned up – they didn't have the option of heading home, so we all got together and had a great day.
There were people doing their OE, people who worked retail in the big smoke and couldn't get time off, and there were some who just didn't want to go home for various reasons.
That day will always stick in my mind – not just because it was fun, but because it felt like I was helping people in complicated situations, even lonely neighbours who had no family.
While writing this there have been numerous media reports about the mosque attack Royal Commission of Inquiry and the one-year anniversary of the tragic events on Whakaari.
It hit me hard that all those people affected don't actually have loved ones around to even try to get home for. There will be people this year who have lost family members and friends unexpectedly, and that makes Christmas Day even harder.
Yes, we love the break, we love the celebrations and surrounding ourselves with material things - even working Christmas Day to cash in on the time and half so we can have extra money - but is it worth it if we don't make the effort to get home at least once in a while?
We have all faced a year in which our priorities in life have been questioned – we hopefully found out what's important to us all and what makes us happy if the daily grind of life is suddenly put on hold.
For some it's been a huge and devastating time, for others a revelation and a chance to change direction.
As we approach the Christmas break and a new year, I hope you have made some effort to try to get home. For those who can't, for whatever reason, I hope someone has checked in and made sure you're not spending the day by yourself - but whatever the excuse or situation, I hope you don't feel guilty.
I could have made a better effort this year, but that hasn't happened. Given the loss some people have endured and the restrictions we have had this year, perhaps that somewhat excusable guilt will eventually get me home for Christmas Day.