Feel­ing the pres­sure? WELL, NO MORE...

‘The per­fect tree? Pah! We women put too much pres­sure on our­selves at Christ­mas’ – Kar­ren Brady on choos­ing not to stress these hol­i­days

Woman & Home (South Africa) - - Getting On With It -

Idon’t know about you, but in the past I have felt pres­sured to make sure my Christ­mas Day re­sem­bled some­thing out of one of those glossy, sen­ti­men­tal TV ad­verts. You know, the ones that fea­ture the per­fect fam­ily with their per­fectly dressed chil­dren, per­fectly dec­o­rated house, per­fectly set ta­ble and, of course, the per­fect three-course lunch?

I’ve tried be­ing Nigella Law­son in the kitchen and Martha Stew­art in the home. I once made my own cran­berry sauce and hand-dec­o­rated my mince pies. I colour co-or­di­nated all the dec­o­ra­tions on my Christ­mas tree with the wrap­ping pa­per. The prob­lem was that I was so fo­cused on it be­ing per­fect that I for­got to en­joy my­self.

So last year, I adopted the “I don’t give a damn!” at­ti­tude to Christ­mas lunch, and guess what? We sur­vived! I cooked an edi­ble turkey by just shov­ing it in the oven, in­stead of fol­low­ing the step-by-step guide I em­barked on the pre­vi­ous year that started at 6am and fin­ished at 3pm. Ev­ery­thing else came out OK, and even the dessert wasn’t bad, bear­ing in mind it in­volved Mal­te­sers and shop-bought brown­ies – and took about 30 sec­onds to make.

I let the kids dec­o­rate the tree – it was a dis­as­ter and, frankly, would never find its way into a glossy mag­a­zine, but they liked it. No one else seemed to no­tice the di’er­ence be­tween last year’s ‘per­fect’ tree and this year’s thrown­to­gether ver­sion. Ev­ery­one wrapped their own gifts in what­ever pa­per was to hand, and guess what? The pa­per all went into the same rub­bish bag. Ob­vi­ously, it’s lovely to have beau­ti­fully wrapped gifts and home-made food, but you don’t have to do it all. If it’s stress­ing you out, just give it a miss.

And right there, right then, I re­alised that Christ­mas is a mag­i­cal time, but ev­ery­thing doesn’t have to be per­fect for it to be magic. And that life is too short to make your own cran­berry sauce!

The magic of Christ­mas is about spend­ing time with your loved ones, do­ing noth­ing ex­cept eat­ing and drink­ing. Laugh­ing to­gether, play­ing those stupid once-a-year board games or even cha­rades. Dad do­ing silly magic tricks. Toast­ing to things you’ve done over the past year or plan to do next year. Or just sim­ply be­ing alive, be­ing happy, and be­ing with the peo­ple you care most about. I don’t know why us women put so much pres­sure on our­selves, es­pe­cially at this time of year. So don’t feel you have to make ev­ery­thing per­fect. Let ev­ery­one chip in, and del­e­gate to any­one and ev­ery­one. And if by 3pm on the 25th your mince pies have been sat on, your turkey juices are still run­ning red, and your gravy is lumpy, don’t panic! Sim­ply pour your­self an­other glass of wine... w&h

‘I was so stressed I for­got to en­joy my­self ’

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