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
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 dierence 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 ’