We all have that perfect Christmas image, don’t we? It’s probably something like this.
Gran and Grandad snoozing in front of the fire, stomachs replete with an excellent lunch. Mum and Dad sitting hand-in-hand watching a blockbuster movie on the TV. Kids happily playing with their Christmas toys. And the dog looking photogenically cute in its elf costume.
But maybe it’s more like this.
You’re a single parent struggling to cope on your own. Or you’re not, but halfway through Christmas Day you’re allowing yourself a sneaking suspicion that you might be better off if you were. Gran and Grandad jetted off to Tenerife on Christmas Eve. They’ve just facetimed to wish you “Feliz Navidad” and you answered through gritted teeth. The turkey was dry, the pigs lost their blankets, and you set fire to the Christmas pud (and the curtains). You forgot the batteries for the kids’ toys so their now alternating between fighting each other and telling you what a useless parent you are. And the dog’s eaten its elf costume and is now looking forlornly at a pile of green sick.
The truth is probably somewhere in between.
Some things will go right. Others will go wrong. And once you recognise that, it stops being such a problem. We all put so much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect that we end up angry, stressed and miserable.
So step back and think about what really matters. If you’re like me, that’s enjoying a relaxing day with people you love. It’s about a nice meal, not a gourmet feast. It’s about smiles and laughter and not worrying if the Christmas tree looks like an accident in a bauble factory.
So decide what really matters to you about Christmas and focus on that. If you don’t like turkey, don’t have it. If lighting the pud always results in a call to the fire brigade just skip it, or get someone else to do it. Concentrate on the few things you think are important, get those right, and take everything else as it comes. And if the important things go wrong – have a laugh about it. Turn it into one of those Christmas memories you talk about every year.
Christmas will always involve some degree of stress – unless you’re Delia Smith (and she’s probably lying). But you can reduce it to a level you can handle by letting go of the idea of perfection. And if you need any more help with your stress, at Christmas or any other time, you can always give me a call.