Christmas can be an overwhelming time for families. Busy lives mean that we can go a long time without being around our families, and then all of a sudden there are 15 people in the house where there used to be two.
Things can go from "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" to your mother questioning your life choices very quickly; turning the Christmas festivities less pleasant and more polluted.
As we grow older Christmas can lose its magic and become more jingle hell than jingle bells. So when you find yourself hiding in the bathroom post-burned-turkey, take a deep breath and remember...
It's not supposed to be perfect
It's your first time hosting your parents and siblings in your new apartment for Christmas dinner. You ordered the perfect turkey and ham weeks in advance, have the pudding tucked away ready to eat, the tree is strategically colour-coordinated (traditional red and gold, of course, to please mam), and the presents are perfectly parcelled. But here's the thing; no matter how prepared we are, we can never fully prepare for inevitable slip-ups. Psychologists call this the 'Disneyfication of Christmas', where we strive for perfection that isn't actually there, and before you know it you've burned the turkey. So, if (and inevitably when) something unplanned happens at your Christmas get-together don't panic; take a moment and appreciate the day for what it is.
Find your space
Finding serenity in a small house with lots of people can be easier said than done, but there comes a time when it's necessary to be on your own - even for ten minutes. If you're in need of a breather and you're stuck for space, why not take a walk around the block or drop by a neighbour or friends house. Afterwards, you'll feel good as new and will be able to rejoin the clan (and forget why you even left).
Family members at loggerheads? Plan ahead and avoid family feuds over dinner by putting together a seating plan to avoid uncomfortable confrontations and conversations. And if all else fails, work out your exit strategy to make a quick escape.
If you are a separated parent
If, for any reason, you are unable to spend Christmas with your family or children, arrange to have your own special day together afterwards. It may be a difficult day and may leave you feeling isolated; especially when so much emphasis is placed on family life at this time of the year. If you find yourself without your family or children this year, why not dedicate a couple of hours on Christmas day to cooking for the poor and homeless as part of the Christmas Day Dinner project? Organised by the Order of the Knights of St. Columbanus, it's a really gorgeous way of giving back and brightening someone else's day.
This time of the year can be particularly anxiety-inducing when it comes to finances. If your family members are old enough, why not suggest doing a secret Santa instead of having the burden of buying gifts for everyone? Not only is it cost-effective, but it's a fun way to start the day and see who really knows who in the family.
We can't choose our family or how certain situations pan out, but we can choose how we react and fix problems. So if you find yourself becoming more Scrooge than Mrs Clause, take a second to breathe and remember the true reason why you're all together.