DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF: People remember the feeling, not the money spent.
DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF: People remember the feeling, not the money spent. Thinkstock

Don't get too wrapped up in the small stuff this Christmas



IN A few days I will be serving Christmas lunch for 25 and there's little joy to be had as I add more and more tasks to my To Do list.

After a stressful weekend I knew it was time to get real about what I want to remember from this Christmas.

I'm genuinely looking forward to the first Christmas with our precious grandchildren but in trying to make it a memorable day I'm letting a million little things get in the way.

On Saturday I spent nearly an hour debating the pros and cons of spending $80 on red felt place mats. It proved to be a tipping point but I realised other signs of stress.

I am forgetting to do important things that matter like paying bills, I am not sleeping properly, my hands get sweaty at the thought of Christmas Day and there's a bubble of anxiety in my gut that never goes away.

As the matriarch of this family I feel like I should have all this sorted.

At this stage of life I should be able to do everything perfectly without the slightest hint of stress or worry but the reality is that I am struggling.

Normally I adopt a KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) approach to big family events but the push for perfection is taking a terrible toll.

So it's time to remind myself of the things I know for certain.

1. Christmas Day is not a deadline for everything. It is important to enjoy the days as they unfold and keep tasks to what actually has to be done. That means crossing "vacuuming under the beds” off the list.

2. Take the time to make others feel good. At the shops and at work people are acting differently. Who knows why some are impatient, grumpy and sometimes utterly rude. Maybe they will be alone or working over Christmas, maybe it is a truly painful time of year or maybe they are also preparing a feast for 25 people. What I do know is that a smile or a few cheerful words can make a difference, to them and to my own mood.

3. We won't starve. There will be enough food to feed 25 people and even if things don't go to plan in the kitchen and my dishes don't look good enough for the cover of a recipe book there will be more than enough to eat at lunch, dinner and probably the next five days. So "make Christmas pudding” is off the list.

4. People remember the feeling, not the money spent. I almost spent $80 on Christmas-themed place mats and common sense only prevailed after an hour-long internal debate about the need for every person coming to lunch to have a place mat. I want people to remember that they could relax in my home - they don't need a red felt place mat to do that.

As I take a red pen to my ridiculous To Do list John Farnham has became my Christmas angel and his song Take the Pressure Down has replaced the Christmas carols that were on repeat.