The Gingerbread House

I had to go out to get the last few things of my Christmas shopping list. It was decided –quite rightly- that it was best that I did that on my own. So my husband dropped me off with the boys in the back of the car. I had a sense that there was some boy’s time coming up and then I am never entirely sure what I will find when I get home.

I indulged in walking around in my own bubble, browsing and making decisions without the frantic keeping an eye on my children who are normally totally inappropriately playing hide and seek in any shop I go into. Sometimes it is “tag” for variation. Shopping with the kids is one of the most stressful things I ever encounter. Inevitably I end up going home with only items of the highest necessity. So to be out on my own –albeit amidst hundreds of other Christmas shoppers- was a delight. I even managed to get a sneaky hot chocolate and sandwich in at Starbucks, which made me feel super indulgent. Crazy really, but it’s time not money or anything else, that the most valuable commodity these days.

I felt a different person when “the boys” picked me up. You would have thought I had had a day in a Spa, complete with pedicure, yet I had 2 hours by myself shopping for other people! There was a buzz in the car. Like I thought, the boys had been up to things.

So I was ordered to close my eyes and my sons guided me into the house by the hand. They were bursting with excitement (or sugar, one of the two or both) and when they opened the door there on the kitchen surface stood not only a very cute gingerbread house but it was surrounded by 30 homemade and personally decorated Christmas cookies… it really looked lovely. My husband stood smiling in the doorway feeling very pleased with himself, as this was his first baking experience. And the boys tucked straight in as now I had seen it there was no need to hold back any longer.
Christmas time consists of such simple pleasures.

Enjoy Christmas and Avoid Family Stress

Christmas is the time of goodwill, peace on earth and understanding yet it often notoriously turns into a time of tension and disagreements. After a tough year and an intense run up to the festivities families sit around the dinner table possibly able to relax for the 1st time and all hell can break loose. Tiredness, unrealistic expectations, inability to chill and be oneself, combined with the unbelievable pressure to “have a good time” are all ingredients to a potential disaster. The smallest thing can irritate and if you are exhausted it is so easy for the glass to only look half empty.

There are a lot of people you may want to satisfy and make happy but make yourself happy first so that you are then in a position to give the best of you. It’s a little bit like the oxygen mask in a plane: they say, don’t they, to put the mask on yourself before helping anyone else.

Make choices for Christmas that are not only based on “ought to’s” and “should do’s” because they will definitely bread some resentment. Find compromises and be true to you. This is a great time of the year to relax; what do you want to do with that time?

And if things get a little tense within the family or between friends, think about these wise words by Aristotle:

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” Aristotle

Ultimately anger really only hurts you and “for every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind” (R. W. Emerson).

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