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With the madness of the festive season upon us – and having seen some very frazzled clients recently (!) – it seemed like a good time for a dose of commonsense. That’s if we dare use this rather word at all… 
 
For some reason we’ve never been able to fathom, the festive season seems to bring out the manic in most people. Not to mention the rose tinted spectacles. 
 
Perhaps it’s down to the combination of late nights and festive get togethers fuelled with industrial quantities of alcohol and food. 
Or those unwritten rules and traditions that seem to plague most families. “We always see Great Aunt Esmeralda on Christmas Eve / have bucks fizz on Christmas morning / go to the pantomime on Boxing Day / fill in the blank.” 
 
 
And no one ever dares ask whether these traditions still work for everyone concerned. Let alone suggest an alternative that would suit everyone better. Or ever stopped to considered whether Great Aunt Esmeralda dreads the visits as much as you do, but is too polite to say so. Just a thought. 
 
However the single factor we see causing most stress to everyone in the family is that everything has to be perfect. Or it’ll be the end of the world. The presents. Decorations. Christmas Lunch. The children (no comment). And so the list goes on. 
 
Talk about setting yourself – and the whole family – up for a stressful and potentially explosive few days. It’s little wonder that the start of the new year is such as busy time for divorce lawyers and counsellors… 
 
So let’s inject a dose of commonsense into the proceedings before things get completely out of hand. 
 
To start with it’s not too late to take a long hard look at all those family traditions and unwritten rules. Do they really work for everyone concerned? That’s if they ever did in the first place. 
 
Just because things have always been done in a certain way there’s no reason why you have to continue doing so. If you’re doing things that make everyone miserable in the process, isn’t it time to make a change? 
 
Make some new traditions of your own. Ones that the entire family can be involved in, rather than leaving it all up to one – or two, if you’re lucky (!) – people. Delegation is key to retaining everyone’s sanity, as well as keeping them busy and out from under your feet. 
 
And, when you’ve decided what you’d like to do this year, don’t fall foul of the perfection monster. While you may not want to admit it, nothing in life is 100% perfect. It’s a truly unobtainable goal. You’re setting yourself up for failure – and mega stress – before you start. 
 
Why not set yourself a more realistic goal, one that’s obtainable without you ending up completely frazzled in the process. And, we can guarantee, making everyone in the family 100% miserable too. Simply that everyone has an enjoyable and relaxed time. Good enough is good enough. 
 
After all any gathering is all about the people concerned, not the trappings. Does it really matter whether you have matching napkins / a six course lunch / new carpet / 12 feet tree / fill in the blank. In reality, “no.” But people will remember the time spent together, the jokes and Great Uncle Fred snoring in the corner. 
 
So, this year, focus on the things that really matter. And have a very happy – and enjoyable – Christmas. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
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