How to get through Christmas with a smile

Christmas traditions can be wonderful, the familiarity of Christmas smells, music and food -the congregation of families merging together for the festive season….Bliss!

Or, indeed, this could be some people’s worst nightmare! Here’s how to get through Christmas with a smile.

My husband and I ‘do’ Christmas for our family of 12 every year, we have some complications in our family, my mum and his dad have Alzheimer’s, sadly can’t feed themselves are in wheelchairs and because of their condition can’t speak now which is desperately sad …. So Christmas day has to be a military operation!  Our kitchen is in the basement we bring in tables from other houses to accommodate everyone. We want to make sure everyone is enjoying the experience and our Dad and Mum – who are full time carers – are having a day off…all this while cooking the meal, pouring drinks and running up and down the stairs! Naturally this year I’ll be wearing my ‘Fitbit’ to see exactly how many steps I clock up!

The first couple of years in our relationship were spent worrying about how everyone was feeling, taking on too much and not asking for enough help – then avoiding difficult situations by pouring another Prosecco… letting any negative thoughts manifest themselves into a huge frenzy…If only I’d just said something!

Does this sound familiar?

We sometimes fill this time with assumptions, snapping at each other, not listening to ourselves, Thinking how on earth am I going to get through this Christmas holiday; having to please everyone! Strange as it sounds, being a little bit selfish means you can give that little bit more…

At the end of the day, remember what Christmas is really about. Family interfere because they love you, annoying traditions exist to bring people together, and everyone (even the grumpy ones) just want to be with their loved ones. When family-induced stress threatens to break you, take a step back and remember to focus on what’s going right or what went right in the past year instead of what’s wrong.

Tips on coping with the pressure of Christmas….

Tip 1  – To do list and timings

If you are like me then a list of knowing what needs to be done and the sense of satisfaction knowing you are ticking things off, being organised means you will feel in control of the situation and is crucial when cooking for a large number of people. Timing is important too. Having food ready at a given time means Great Aunt Molly hasn’t passed out on the sofa because she’s drunk too much sherry on an empty stomach.

Tip 2  – Delegate

Once you’ve planned what needs to be done it’s time to delegate, let go of the control freak in you and ask for help, this means you eat and drink just like everyone else, rather than wonder why at 7pm you’re verging on aggressive and you’re being overly competitive with a 5 year old when playing games because you haven’t had time to eat properly.

Tip 3  – Go with the flow

You can only control you own behaviour. Do not let others take over how you feel. So what if the potatoes aren’t ready!  Who cares if the plates don’t match -odd is good in my book! Take a minute before reacting to a situation or step away for a moment to see it from a different perspective. Words are powerful and can change the flow of the day in a heartbeat.

Tip 4 – Remember it’s your Christmas too

Allow time to sit down and relax whether that’s on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning! Be in the moment, think about how you are feeling and about how others are excited to be coming to your house to celebrate…creating happy memories….  My Dad says every year without fail after eating a huge Christmas meal, ‘Well that was a nice starter’ and every year I roll my eyes having been in the kitchen for 5 hours sweating …

My ‘Me time’ starts on Boxing day where my husband and I like to take a beach walk, come home light the fire, eat cheese and watch films for the rest of the day….. feeling satisfied that my family were happy and fulfilled on Christmas day…

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