Ba Humbug! Everyone is sooooo looking forward to holiday season it's all balanced on a knife-edge so it's very easy to throw a spanner in the festive works.
Everyone is frantic and your poor Mum has been working around the clock basting turkeys, stuffing the puddings full of suet and the like. Stress levels are up and to top it off, you're expected to be having a 'great' time. Throw in the toxic mix of relatives, who haven't seen each other for ages and all the secret grudges they bear and you have a powder keg ready to go off. If you're not careful you can light the fuse ... and boom!
Last minute maddness
The problem with Christmas is that it's usually left to the last minute and then it's shopping on Christmas Eve when, for sure it's going to be lashing rain and you spend more time stuck in traffic making mental lists and checking them twice that you do getting anything accomplished. Of course those of us with foresight order everything on the Internet so that it's delivered, all beautifully wrapped, to their door, weeks before Christmas. They can then spend the pre-Christmas build up being smug as hell and constantly posting on Facebook about how 'chilled and relaxed' they are, going for cocktails with equally smugly prepared friends in chic bars while everyone else is having a nervous breakdown. Thankfully the only people who will see these posts are other well prepared people, so they won't get to inspire envy in their intended victims, the smugness cancels itself out.
Beware the beast of Christmas spirits, alcohol that is.... booze. Christmas is a time for indulgence, sure, but the crucial thing is when to indulge. The easiest way to ruin Christmas, and I know this from experience, is to overdo it the night before. Christmas Day can be challenging enough with facing into the task ahead with the full-blown horror of a hangover. Christmas is all about food and if you're struggling to hold down your breakfast you're fighting a losing battle from the start. That said though, if you can hold off the tipples until after lunch, when everyone is preoccupied with the task of digestion and the evening boredom creeps in, a few glasses of Christmas cheer can be the perfect antidote for what ails you.
So family + alcohol, can be a volatile compound. However if you add the catalyst politics to the mix it's sure to blow up in your face, family + alcohol + politics = trouble. Avoid absolutely contentious subjects such as the Middle East and economics. Family gets together at Christmas and that means the conservative Grandmother can be sitting next to the radically liberal grandson and it can kick off at any time. Make a rule - 'no politics at the Christmas lunch table', revise the seating plan, try and get the liberals on one side of the table and the conservatives on the other, not that you want politics to divide your family but 'segregation' can facilitate peace... but that's another story.
The centre-piece to most Christmas lunches is the turkey, and depending on how you're cooking it can take hours to roast. So don't burn it whatever you do. Some people slow roast the bird over night, which gives best results but it means the oven is working through the night, and you may have to get up in the middle of the night to turn it, or check the temperature. If, the turkey burns, all is lost, so be very careful with your cooker settings.
Christmas Day is actually one of the busiest days of the year in the AE Department of any hospital. The place is full of people, from raving drunks, to people who have lost fingers carving the turkey, fallen from ladders putting up decorations, burned themselves in the kitchen as well as food poisoning which can happen when people are attempting ambitious food cooking without adequate knowledge of kitchen basics. The last thing you want is to spend the whole day waiting in a hospital corridor so it's worth exercising a little extra caution throughout the day.
It's the stuff that nightmares are made of. You get to the airport on time, your baggage is weighed and packed. Everything is good to go and you hear the word's 'you passport please' you rummage through your pockets, bags and then you realise, you've left it at home or even worse, it's out of date.
Doing it for the kids
So we're repeatedly told that Christmas is for children. But that doesn't mean they have a free licence to ruin it for everyone else. Their little faces as they gaze expectantly out the window on Christmas Eve is something yeah, but if you have them, you know, they're hard work, they don't let up, they get their parents stressed and that can have a knock on effect throughout the household. A few simple rules when it comes to your or anyone else's kids at Christmas. Go easy on the sugar. It's crack for kids and the come down will turn them into Regan from 'The Exorcist', so less is more. Use the carrot and stick approach, sugar for good behaviour, but not too late in the day as if they are high on sugar after bedtime, you've got carnage on your hands. Don't forget to take them outdoors Being cooped up indoors all day with the central heating turned up to maximum, a log fire roaring and wearing new woollen Christmas clobber would drive anyone demented. Kids want to play, so get them outside run them around in the fresh air and they'll be happier, and calmer and they'll sleep better and so will their parents.
A puppy is for life not just for Christmas
Don't under any circumstances give an unasked for puppy as a present for Christmas. You'll win point with the children but their parents will hate you for it. You will have just given them another mouth to feed and consigned the father to getting up an hour earlier every morning in life to walk the bloody thing. However if you wanted to get a sneaky revenge on a family member, this is the gift that just keeps giving.
If you're thinking of proposing to your girl/boyfriend this Christmas. Don't. Of course it could all end well and end up being the best Christmas ever. But imagine breaking out a diamond in front of the whole family, getting down on one knee and then being rejected? There's probably no better way to put a downer on your and everyone else's Christmas. If you're thinking of doing it, hold off until New Years, it's usually an anticlimax anyway and you won't have to deal with the fallout for the whole holiday.
Candles add atmosphere and fairy lights on the tree are pretty to look at, but Christmas is a busy time for the Fire Department and more than a few trees go up in smoke. Also, if you haven't used the fireplace all year and now you want a real log fire, make sure you clear the chimney, it's too embarassing to call the Fire Department out for a chimney fire.
Under lock and key
Christmas is a busy time for thieves. They know your house is full of gifts and easy pickings. So make extra sure you shut up shop, lock all doors windows, cross all the t's and dot all the i's when you leave the house. Better still get the neighbours to keep a vigilant eye out when you're out. Watch out for pickpockets during the busiest shopping periods, these thieves are experts and the last thing you want to do is make it easy for them.