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Christmas is supposed to be the season of good will and joy to all men and I am sure it is but it is also a season of unparalleled stress and often thinly disguised panic. It really is a ridiculous state of affairs as we make such strenuous efforts to deliver the perfect Christmas that many of us fail to enjoy it as we experience paralysis from the fear of disaster and disappointment.
It seems inconceivable that there could be so many issues to concern ourselves with when all we are facing is a couple of days at home. Little wonder that the build-up starts so early as those with busy lives need all that time to get everything done. I don’t go overboard at Christmas but even I struggle to get my life in order before I am supposed to deliver the perfect turkey and to keep several people entertained for a day. Quite apart from everything I need to do I am always concerned that something horrific will happen like the heating breaking down or the oven packing up. This might sound like paranoia but I have already had to call out British Gas in the last month twice and the boiler was only installed in August! But I digress.
The problems start with presents. Some people are easy to buy for and others are simply a nightmare. Avoiding the inevitability of socks and toiletries can be difficult and as the big day looms there are always gifts which completely elude me as I stare blankly at a never ending stream of pages online hoping for an epiphany that never comes. As Christmas approaches I am seized by blind panic as I realise that the last order dates have long gone and I must walk aimlessly around a shopping mall praying for inspiration before I have to resort to the socks.
In the meantime there is the tree to deal with. Sick of being in fear of my cats pulling over my artificial tree for the umpteenth time I have resorted to the expense of a real one. In a rush of blood to the head I purchased the thing early and now feel compelled to examine it every day for signs of a premature death. I am sure my tree will be requiring the last rites before Christmas actually arrives and so I am thinking of encouraging a trend for brown trees!
Food is also on my mind. Several attempts to deliver an even slightly palatable turkey dinner have failed miserably and so I have ordered beef wellingtons from a local butcher and pray earnestly every day for salvation. Fears over dry turkey have been replaced by hours of research on how long to cook the wellingtons and I am terrified that my friend who will only eat virtually incinerated steak will find his plate obscured by a pool of blood!
I am also concerned that I may forget something vital as my memory is not what it was. This is clearly an affliction shared by my neighbour who last year arrived on my doorstep on Christmas day in a state of terror because she had forgotten to buy mango chutney. I didn’t speak for a good while as I was contemplating how mango chutney could be so significant. It turned out that it was a crucial ingredient in the coronation chicken that was to be the filling for the evening sandwiches. Thankfully I had a jar lurking in the back of my fridge but was unable to recall when I bought it. I was then rather concerned that I might have inadvertently poisoned her family. I was most relieved to see them all alive and well the next morning.
I have already forgotten one thing this Christmas and the big day hasn’t arrived yet. In my indecent haste to buy a tree and the perennial panic attack over the presents I totally overlooked buying the traditional advent calendar which my best friend always likes to have. He loves the countdown to Christmas whereas I would rather not be reminded that time is running out. Whilst he is contemplating his naval I have mince pies to make and must somehow muster a Yule log and there you go I have forgotten the bloody cooking chocolate!
Sally Stacey is a keen writer and business onwer who divides her time between writing and running her shop. With a job and a business Christmas is hard to manage!