Every year I spend months dreaming of the perfect family Christmas featured on the supermarket adverts and when you add that to the fact that I usually border on ‘slightly obsessive control freak’ you can see my dilemma.
The process starts around June when I have to establish if my eldest two children will be spending Christmas with me or their natural father. Thus far they’ve always been with me but at some point that will not be the case and every year I spend several weeks quietly worrying about it and hoping that they won’t be going even though I know that I have to share them.
Once that matter is resolved I have to ask my other half what his family is doing for Christmas. “I’ll find out he says” and then leaves it until I ask for the fifth time in November. The answer is always the same, they are coming to us, but until it’s confirmed I never quite know.
And then the planning can start. Everyone tells me not to worry about it all, that it’s not important, but it is to me. My family are very important to me and the way I show this to them is through my kitchen. My dining table is where we, as an extended family, celebrate birthdays and holidays and, biggest of all, Christmas. Finally, after many years, I’ve worked out how to survive it without turning into a shrieking harridan or an emotional wreck.
One thing I’ve realised is that lowering my standards or relinquishing control to others is not an option. These actions do not relieve my stress, they make it worse. It’s important to me that my Christmas table looks perfect and is groaning with food that tastes amazing so I’ve had to find a way to make it happen.
My gift shopping is done online and early and is usually wrapped and bagged per person in the loft by 1st December. With that taken care of I can turn my full attention to the actual day and after some careful thought here is my personal Christmas survival plan:
- Book the Christmas grocery delivery as soon as the dates are released so you can avoid the torture of the supermarket!
- Have an assistant for prep (my Dad) but don’t let anyone else cook!
- Don’t let anyone else lay the table!
- Don’t cook sprouts or Christmas Pudding – everyone hates them so they’re a waste of time!
- Don’t do any washing up – this is something I am prepared to let others do!
- Be grateful that my family understands how important this is to me and lets me get on with it with only minimal teasing and smart comments!
It’s not rocket science but it works for me and I think I secretly enjoy carrying a little stress on Christmas Day. It makes me feel important, loved and at the centre of my family and that is what Christmas is about after all. The pleasure I get when the extended family ooohs and aaahs over the meal I have prepared them makes it all worthwhile.
Now if only I could stop the kids from hanging baubles on the tree in a non symmetrical manner….