24/12/2013 05:18 GMT | Updated 22/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Car Parks, Hell and Stress at Xmas - 'Tis the Season of Obligation

You know what Xmas and New Year used to mean to me? Stress. Rushing to do too much in too little time, traffic and crawling around overstuffed multi-level car parks.

You know what Xmas and New Year used to mean to me? Stress.

Rushing to do too much in too little time, traffic and crawling around overstuffed multi-level car parks.

If anything proves the existence of the devil, it's car parks. No matter how many levels high they might be, it always feels like you're underground, and surrounded by urine and crime.

Once trapped inside, you crawl around looking for a car park or an exit, and there's always a point when you feel like you're never going to find either. This is what I imagine it feels like to be in hell.

Car parks for me are a reminder of what really happens during the holiday season. You never budget for the time wasted in a car park, and before the holidays begin, you imagine they'll be filled with all the fun stuff you never had time for during the year.

The way life is structured, we always seem to leave the things that we enjoy most until last. I'm guilty of it as well.

In order to properly enjoy your leisure time, you make sure everything else is done first, and when that stuff doesn't get done, once again you've run out of time for fun.

The holidays are the one time of year when I'm sure it's not going to happen again, and then it happens again.

All those little obligations that slice away at your holiday pie, until it's all over way too soon.

Tasks that you don't see coming, or because they're so mundane, you assume they won't take any time at all.

Picking up relatives from the airport, lining up for twenty minutes at the deli counter, searching for a car park.

Which all used to make me super stressed.

Then with everyone constantly reminding me that it's the exact opposite of what this time of year is supposed to be about, it just stressed me out even more.

So you know what I've realised? It's not all about me.

A lot of these obligations involve us doing things for other people.

Maybe you'd prefer not to go to so many family functions, to drive back and forward from the airport, to return to that overcrowded shopping centre because your aunty forgot the custard.

But you do it, because you're a good person and you care about others. The only change is, I've decided to do it with a smile.

I've accepted that a part of my holidays is being stuck in traffic, in massive crowds, and telling relatives that I'm still not married, I don't have a real job and basically that I'm failing at an adult life.

I realised that there's no point to doing all these things for others if I'm carrying around a horrible attitude.

Nobody gives you less tasks and obligations because of your bad mood. All you're doing is dragging down everyone else with you.

Whatever happens, however I feel, no matter if I'm seething inside, I now try and smile. I crack jokes. I have the best time I can in the situation that I'm in.

Then yesterday I had a surprising experience after 40 mins in an underground car park. I discovered that through a forced smile, it's still possible to very loudly shout obscenities.

People looked at me and looked concerned, then saw that I was smiling, and they smiled back.

Which made me smile for real.

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. His debut comedy book about life on a FIFO mining site 'Mining My Own Business' is available now.

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