I had two telephone calls this week from friends worried about Christmas. One called to say that she and her husband had invited 12 people - mostly family - to stay over the upcoming Christmas holiday period.
The couple has two young school-going children and there will be other children of similar ages coming to stay as well. My friend is worried - not about whether there will be enough food or how and where everyone will sleep, but the demands of the guests already being made.
Can we possibly arrive a day earlier than we originally planned, asked one guest. And another had this question: Do you have two extra car seats for our children? While another announced she had decided for December only to become a vegan.
Friend number one is tearing her hair out. Already there are so many stresses involved in the run up to the holidays that she doesn't know where to turn. In addition, her husband has a chest infection that won't go away.
Friend number two called and sounded more upbeat. He said he was more concerned how the conversation will go at the Christmas table, what with the vote to leave the EU having taken place last June and the election of Donald J. Trump as the president-elect of the United States.
His advice is: "You can't control a family member's political views, so it's not worth having a full-blown argument, but save it for another day. Just keep quiet is my policy.
"You can always listen to someone else's viewpoint. You may disagree vehemently, but you don't have to say so. And if all else fails, just excuse yourself and go to another room to admire the tree."
With all the tinsel, lights, Christmas carols, pantomimes and mulled wine parties that are there in the run-up to the festivities, this time of the year puts a great deal of stress on the couple relationship. Many couples find the Christmas holidays an extremely difficult time to manage their relationships successfully as they juggle with the additional pressures, try to manage their own families, their needs and expectations and those of others around them.
Divorce lawyers up and down the country always report that their telephones ring louder and more often in the new year as struggling couples want to know their rights and responsibilities. Having just spent another few days locked in with the in-laws or other family members against their will, the holidays give people who might want to get out of a relationship an excuse to do so.
Perhaps a better alternative would be for couples to communicate better in the first place and establish some rules and regulations for the holiday period. Doing so in a calm and collected manner might prevent disaster and destruction at a later stage.Suggest a correction