We all know that Christmas can be stressful. There is the usual invasion by the family, and extended family, the standing on ceremony all day, the extra expense as well as time and frustration trying to get the Christmas dinner on the table on time.
So much to do - presents to buy, cards to write, people to see, meals to cook, worrying about money. Panic sets in. Then there is the worry that there are not enough hours in the week.
Perhaps you perceive that you organise everything all on your own, without appreciation, and you also perceive there is a whole lot of expectation too from those around you. That doesn't sound like much fun to me. And yet it is a scenario that is described over and over again.
Is it really the case though? Do YOU have to organise everything? Are YOU expected to do it all? Is this something YOU think you ought to do?
If you think it is something you ought to do, think again. There are no oughts allowed. We aren't living in the nineteenth or even the twentieth century now, we are living in the twenty first century - it is time for YOU to start looking at what it is YOU want to happen at Christmas, when YOU want it to happen, who YOU want to celebrate with, who YOU don't want to celebrate with, whether YOU want to celebrate it at all, whether YOU want to cook a roast dinner with all the trimmings or not, whether YOU want to go to a restaurant for Christmas dinner and so on.
Perhaps you wonder what others will think of you if you break with tradition. Stop wondering, be true to yourself, if the traditions are still relevant to you then by all means carry on with them, but if they are not relevant then stop following them.
Ask yourself how much of your planning for Christmas is led by guilt. Be honest and try to weed out unnecessary obligations to lessen your load.
For instance, is it the norm for your relatives to all come to your house for Christmas dinner? Do they expect you to invite them? Do you do all the food shopping, all the cooking?
Is this what YOU and they really want? Have you had 'the conversation' regarding who really wants to do what on Christmas day? It really isn't a difficult conversation to have.
For instance, I asked my mother a couple of years ago if she wanted to spend Christmas with me or with my brother as she usually divided her time between us. She said she would rather go on a tinsel and turkey trip with her friend and that is what she did. She had fun, I wasn't obligated and I could do what I wanted which was have a quiet Christmas at home with my husband.
I know someone who went every weekend for five years to his father's for Sunday lunch. He packed up his car with his children and his wife and took the ferry to the mainland because he perceived this is what was expected of him. He was beginning to resent these trips, which took up most of the day, and resent his father.
I asked him if he had had the conversation with his father about having Sunday lunch with him every week. He said no, but that he would. He came back to me and said that his father was hugely relieved as he was getting fed up cooking a roast dinner each week, sometimes he just wanted to sit down with a sandwich and watch the rugby. They agreed to have lunch together once a month. He got most of his Sundays back and he could do more things with his wife and children.
So do the same thing about Christmas. Ask you relatives if they actually want to come to you this Christmas. Don't be surprised if they are relieved that you have asked. You will probably find that you will have an easier time, with far less stress, with just as much fun, but fun that you want to have and not fun that is manufactured out of guilt.
What do YOU want for your Christmas? How do YOU want to look on Christmas day, worn our and resentful, or relaxed and enjoying yourself?
Budget for what you can afford to spend and stick to it. Try and spread the cost of present shopping over a longer period. Consider a simpler version of Christmas dinner such as a buffet where everyone you choose to invite brings a plate of food. Consider whether you are prepared to tolerate family tensions over Christmas, if not make the decision to have 'the conversation' with everyone concerned.
Remember, be the result of your decisions not of circumstances.