Saturday, 2 December 2017


Let me start by saying I absolutely love Christmas and always have. December is by far my favourite month of the year and even more so since I had my children. However, I think we now are under too much pressure to fully embrace every possible aspect of Christmas and there are so many new traditions we are meant to adopt that it has left the whole thing overwhelming and pressured and frankly we have set ourselves up for disappointment. So, what can we do differently?

Relax for a start!

(These are just family Christmas photos so may not be as good a quality as I usually aim to use yet I love them.)

Now I have nothing against any particular Christmas tradition, let’s face it we all have our favourites, the commercial ones, our own ones and our family ones that no one else has heard of. They are fun, they build the basis of shared memories and they provide a familiarity that makes Christmas even more special. I just think that in this social media era we have too many of them and we feel compelled to adopt them all and display that to the world and that creates a pressure that can lead to disappointment.

If you don’t have a Christmas jumper, or a set of new matching family pyjamas to get out for Christmas Eve. If you don’t have a naughty elf on your shelf or a beauty advent calendar. If you don’t visit several Christmas markets, the pantomime, Hyde Park and as many Santa’s as possible. Or if you don’t have a perfectly decorated, modern, symmetric, colour matched tree that fits your chosen theme for that year will your Christmas be ruined? Will it be less special or less memorable? No! Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Seriously people I know I sound like a scrooge, but it couldn’t be further from the truth! I love Christmas I just realise it doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact there are no rules about how it need be at all.

As regular readers will know I suffered for most of my life with a fear of judgement. I did two courses of CBT and it has now helped me manage that fear. However, in the past that fear meant when I hosted Christmas I put myself under huge pressure to make it perfect. I was so scared of being judged as ‘not up to it.’

I was simply entertaining family and it was madness I felt that way. Yet nowadays for many of us, even if we don’t strive for perfection to impress those there in person, we do it to impress our social media followers.

As an example, one year I had my parents, sister and her family over for Boxing Day dinner having already done Christmas day. In the lead up to Christmas I had an image in my head of a perfect two days full of laughter, good food and compliments for my hosting abilities. On Boxing Day, I burnt the sausage rolls. My husband was out at the time with the other men, at the pub. I didn’t want to admit I hadn’t been up to the task, so I blamed the whole thing on him for not being there. I fell apart and spent the mealtime upstairs alone. Now this is obviously the extreme, yet I think we can all relate on some level to the disappointment that comes from expectation.

When it comes to Christmas my advice is to not set your expectations so high. Only include a select few traditions. Ask yourself do I really need to do a Christmas Eve box? Too many traditions will simply add time and financial pressures and create yet more expectation which may not be fulfilled. If you are expecting perfection and have paid the price to get it you will almost certainly end up disappointed. Perfection like you see in films or on YouTube doesn't exist and certainly kids don't cooperate with it! So let it go and enjoy it come what may.

I've been there, convinced Christmas would be ruined if it didn't play out in reality as it did in my mind. 

I always held an image in my head of my husband, children and I decorating the house ready for Christmas. All smiling, listening to Christmas songs, eating mince pies and making the house look wonderful. The reality is normally more like us arguing over who does what, something getting broken and me wishing we had manged to update the d├ęcor in our house since moving in six years ago so that the whole thing looked better. But you know what we still all remember it as a great experience and get excited about doing it each year.

We are building our own family Christmas memories and traditions. They are far from perfect. We argue, nothing looks Instagram worthy, we wear ill matched and old pyjamas on Christmas Eve and me or hubby always put our foot it with something that gives a huge clue Santa may not bring the presents after all. But who cares.

I love our free-for-all family tree. The theme is anything goes, and the kids love that.

I no longer make homemade mince pies or a yule log, there’s enough to do as it is.

This year I am not hosting but even if I was I would be so much more laid back about it if dinner was late, the turkey was dry, or the sausage rolls burnt. (At least I hope I would.)

Christmas, for those lucky enough to have them, should be about family, friends and laughter.

My favourite childhood Christmas memory is walking home from the pub on Christmas Eve night when I still believed in Santa and feeling the genuine magic in the air. No alcohol involved! We are from a big family so meeting in the pub was most feasible! There were no matching pyjamas in sight and no one trying to outdo anyone on Facebook. We just enjoyed the magic and that was free.

To this day I still feel magic in the air on Christmas Eve.

I don’t want to sound old fashioned and believe it or not I have nothing against Christmas pyjamas! I am simply saying don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Roll with it whatever comes along. As Shakespeare said, ‘Expectation is the root of all heartache.’

So, expect less, live more and remember that when hosting Christmas dinner if your mum sets fire to the oven you’ll look back on it with laughter and affection one day, just ask my sister.

Thank you for reading.

Kelly x

1 comment

  1. Oh my god Kelly, thank you for this! I was having almost a nervous breakdown busting a gut for this Christmas but you are so.totally.right. I’m not going to anymore! I’m writing a list of priorities instead. What’s the point of it if I don’t actually enjoy it cos i’m Too stressed out?? A very timely post for me xx


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