Remember June, when last Christmas was just a distant memory and the upcoming Christmas family luncheon too far into the future and you thought that you would love to have the whole family at your house this year? But now, the “Why don’t we do this Christmas at our house? That would be fun” fills you with anxiety and stress?
I recently read an article by Clair Hooper in the Sydney Morning Herald which not only made me laugh out loud but also offered her “Top Ten Christmas Crisis” advise on how to survive that great emotional rodeo that is the family Christmas lunch or dinner:
“1. The guests are here in five minutes, nothing is ready and you’re not dressed
Put down the salad servers. No one in the history of Christmas or other religious holidays has turned up for a family lunch and expected it to be ready. That’s what chips and dips were invented for.
Don’t… Rush. You’ve been rushing all morning.
Do… Assume that Aunty Glynis would rather talk to the kids anyway, so just pop some crackers and hummus on the table, leave the front door open and go and have a 10-minute hot shower and a 20-minute lie-down. Then emerge and pretend you’ve been wrapping gifts. Or just whack on a maxi dress over your pajama pants. Either of these things. I have done both.”
What I tend to do is use the next pause initiated by my meaning to pause® bracelet to breathe deeply in and out until my anxiety has subsided.
“2. You’ve accidentally left something off the grocery list
Of course, you have. It’s incredible that you’ve forgotten only one thing. The Christmas shopping trip is three times larger than usual and done in an absolute frenzy of stress because you’ve yet again left it until five minutes before closing on Christmas Eve.
Don’t… Try to solve the problem yourself.
Do… Remember ’tis better to give than receive, so give a loved one the chance to do you a favor. Just text them, and the more urgent you make it sound, the more rewarding they will find the task. “OH NO PLEASE HELP! I FORGOT THE CREAM!” Never mind that to find a supermarket open they will have to drive 20 minutes in the opposite direction with a toddler in the car.
3. You forgot to get someone a present
This is not the end of the world. See the previous advise – ’tis better to give than receive. When you forget to buy someone a present you are giving them license to forget yours next year. It simply doesn’t get more generous than that.
Don’t… Panic. First of all, let’s stop giving gifts. Presents are for children. Adults can buy stuff themselves.
Do… If it’s a child you’ve forgotten to get a present for, just remember that kids always play with the box instead of the toy. Surely you have a box lying around? If it’s an adult, wrap the box and dare them to tell you there’s nothing in it.”
For me, I always have a spare present for such an occasion. Our meaning to pause® bracelet makes a wonderful gift for men and women.
”4. There is tension at the table
Of course, there is. Humans evolved from living in caves because it capped their Christmas lunches at five people. Immediate relations only. As soon as cousins get together there is an increased risk of not only birth defects but also fights about who got what in the last will.
Don’t… Adopt a nervous, chatty tone and attempt to small-talk your way through it unless you want to be the most annoying person in the world.
Do… Separate the troublemakers. It’s time we started treating Christmas lunches like weddings. Multiple small tables. Possibly with a wall between them. And if people are going to behave like children, they can sit on the children’s table. Or just break the tension by lifting up your maxi dress and showing everyone your pajama pants.
5. Someone’s trying to dominate your kitchen
There she is, Aunty Glynis, pottering about, judging your spice drawer, smugly enjoying the feeling of “helping out” with no acknowledgement that the difficult part of Christmas hosting is the week of anticipation of the preparation, the arduous grocery shop in Christmas peak hour, finding room for all that ginger beer in an already crammed fridge.
The only good bit is getting the actual prep time as a little break from the noise and chaos on that day. Never mind that when family “help” in the kitchen it will be weeks before you find your cheese grater again. (Hint: it’s behind the stew pot in the saucepan cupboard.)
Don’t… Not fight it.
Do… Fight it. I know, you were expecting me to say, “It’s Christmas, let her help, put your feet up.” No way. It’s your kitchen. Don’t sit there passing the salted cashews around in the lounge while your guests yell “Glynis, you’re an angel!” and “Good old Glynis, she does this every year” and “It’ll be even more delicious because Glynis has had a hand in it!” Take your kitchen back. Go in there, ask Aunty Glynis to take the rubbish out to the big bins, then lock her out.
6. Dietary requirements
That’s not on you.
Don’t… Scramble to whip up yet another dish for the table.
Do… If it’s life-threatening, they’d have let you know earlier, and if someone’s hungry enough, they will eat a whole, raw cucumber for lunch.
7. The turkey is terrible
Well, that is on you.
Don’t… Go on and on about how you’ve totally ruined Christmas. That totally will ruin Christmas.
Do… Play a round of the heart-warming Christmas game ‘When Have You Eaten Something Worse?’ You go around the table and everyone has to mention something less edible than your turkey, and every time they mention something you also cooked you get to take a drink (and wonder whether maybe you were wrong to chuck Glynis out of the kitchen).
8. You are gagging for a nap
Seriously, we’re not meant to eat like this. Three courses in you’re so tired you feel like your face is sliding off your skull. The good news is, everyone is in a food coma, with the exception of your vegan niece because she has only eaten a cucumber.
Don’t… Push through to the point where you throw a fruitcake at the wall.
Do… Put on the TV. There’s a reason Christmas movies are so boring. Don’t even try to stay awake until the end; two hours of Christmas movie after a full serve of pudding and custard will only give you diabetes.
9. Your guests won’t go home
Don’t… Give passive-aggressive hints.
Do… Two words – smoke alarm.
10. Turns out you hate Christmas
It’s not like in the movies, is it? The movies don’t show the dog choking on a turkey bone, the blocked toilet, the half-hour wait for the taxi to turn up to take Aunty Glynis home.
Don’t… Feel like a failure.
Do… Take a moment as you go to sleep to remind yourself what you’ve achieved. Did anyone call 911? You didn’t have any real problems. Remember that beautiful Christmas cliché – ’tis better to give than receive.”
Self-imposed stress at Christmas is the worst, but with proper planning ahead and self-care in form of frequent pauses to breathe and chill, regroup and re-frame your mind you will sail through it and find yourself actually enjoying it.
Get your meaning to pause® bracelet today and experience first hand the difference it will make in your life.