Christmas, that time of year when everyone are full of expectations, full of anticipation, everything has to be just right. A timeline for the meal so that we eat at exactly the right time (never 5 minutes late), every derivative of chocolate selection on offer, the perfect present for everyone, rushing around for everyone else so that they can enjoy their day.
STOP - don't forget it is your Christmas Day as well!
As a child, we spent a whole week, moving between four houses around the village, each family going to the others, eating the same foods, seeing the same people, playing the same games, and whilst we had fun as children, it is now easy to see the stresses and expectations on all of our parents.
Imagine this : Roast turkey (or goose at my Gran's) lunch at 12:30, Cakey Christmas Tea (every possible cake you can imagine) at 5pm, cold meat supper at 9pm, all interspersed with endless chocolates, sweets, drinks, even the odd tangerine made an appearance - oh, and of course the never ending basket of nuts to send shards of nutshell all around the room!
So, with that in mind, whether you are hosting, or being hosted this year, whenever it happens to be over the coming weeks, here are 12 great tips to stay grounded and enjoy it all to the full.
A few of my favourites are :
1. Identify your main thing - not the biggest present, but actually the feeling and focus for you of what it is all about.
3. Perfection is not possible - and so don't expect it!
4. Don't push your expectations on to others - and remember, that most 'traditions' are just change which has been repeated many times, don't be afraid to make new ones.
7. Great memories come from mistakes - I still remember the year (1982) when Mum forgot to take the potatoes out of the oven on New Years Eve. I also remember trying to share a bottle of sherry with my wife's Gran - that was another mistake!
10. Know when to stop - just pause, take it easy for a minute. Chill, relax and then continue (if you need a third helping of pudding)
12. Embrace Spirituality - remembering what Christmas is about. What ever your religion or faith, it is a time for coming together, sharing, smiling, and appreciating what we have, and what we can offer. If of course, you want to take a leaf out of the Drill Instructor's book from the film Full Metal Jacket, feel free to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus as well.
Have a read of all 12, and enjoy the coming weeks to the maximum, embracing the company, spirit and essence of what ever this time of year means to you.
But despite all the hope and preparation, often times, holiday expectations go unmet. Meals don’t turn out right. Kids get crabby. Family members bicker. Gifts are not received as fondly as we expected. And before we know it, shades of disappointment begin to creep in as we realize the season will not measure up to the pictures we had in our mind.