Let’s give our­selves a break

So­cial me­dia has made the fes­tive sea­son more bonkers than it’s ever been, reck­ons Donna Dou­glas, who is giv­ing her­self a break from In­sta­gram

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How so­cial me­dia can turn Christ­mas into an in­sta sham!

Idid some­thing shame­ful with a box of mince pies last night. No, I didn’t eat them all in one sit­ting. Although I must ad­mit there was one stress­ful Christ­mas when the fam­ily went all Game Of Thrones over a game of Pic­tionary and I locked my­self in the bath­room with Mr Ki­pling and a bot­tle of Bai­leys.

But not this time. This time, I care­fully ar­ranged the pies on a pretty vin­tage plate, dusted them with ic­ing su­gar, took a photo and posted it on In­sta­gram, claim­ing they were my own work.

What sane per­son posts a photo of mince pies so strangers can see them and pos­si­bly feel bad about them­selves?

Christ­mas has never made sense, but in re­cent years, it has be­come even more bonkers. I blame so­cial me­dia. Time was when your Christ­mas could be as low-key or as tacky as you wanted, and only your loved ones were any the wiser. But now, thanks to Face­book and In­sta­gram, it has a one-up­man­ship about it.

It all started when pho­tos of peo­ple’s Christ­mas trees started pop­ping up on Face­book. But these were no or­di­nary trees. These were works of art, like in the win­dow of a posh depart­ment store.

There were themes, too. Who knew Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions had to have a theme? Not me. But of course, you can’t have the same theme ev­ery year, can you? That would be as shame­ful as turn­ing up in last year’s party dress. Which is why our loft is now taken up with boxes of themed Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions. You want Scandi chic? We’ve got it! An Aladdin’s Cave theme of op­u­lent gold and jew­els? Yep, we can do that, too. I kind of miss our bat­tered old baubles, each with their mem­o­ries. But the foil stars our daugh­ter made at nurs­ery will never in­spire envy, so they just have to stay in their box.

It’s the same with the food. If your ta­ble doesn’t look like some­thing from the M&S fes­tive food brochure, then you’ve failed. Last year, we ex­per­i­mented with a goose.

Not be­cause any of us par­tic­u­larly wanted to take a trip into the culi­nary un­known, but be­cause my sis­ter thought it would be more In­sta-wor­thy. It might have looked good on­line, but we paid twice as much for a bird that didn’t even stretch to a post-din­ner sand­wich. But at least it made some stranger at the other end of the coun­try feel a lit­tle bit bad about their su­per­mar­ket tur­key. But those mince pies were a wake-up call. Isn’t Christ­mas stress­ful enough with­out set­ting our­selves up to be judged? If I want some­one to in­sult my life choices, I’ll just in­vite my mother-in­law. And she’ll pol­ish off the left­over ad­vo­caat while she’s do­ing it.

Let’s give our­selves a break this fes­tive sea­son. Let’s ac­cept that per­fect fam­ily Christ­mases only ex­ist in John Lewis ads. Put the cam­era away, stop wor­ry­ing whether your dec­o­ra­tions are chichi enough, or your canapés will make your friends and fol­low­ers prop­erly en­vi­ous, and just en­joy your­self with the peo­ple who mat­ter. Be­cause that’s what Christ­mas is re­ally all about, isn’t it?

‘Our loft is taken up with boxes of themed dec­o­ra­tions’

‘And here’s a batch I made ear­lier. Ahem…’

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