Planning for Christmas gives us all a case of the bah humbugs 33



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I saw a young man on the bus yesterday wearing a “Christmas Shack” t-shirt. It took me a minute, but I soon realised he was on his way to work. At the Christmas Shack. Which means the festive season – God help us – is on its way.

This isn’t a rant about how early shops start promoting tinsel and tacky gifts (but it so easily could be) this is a rant about how, once again, I am the one who has to bend over backwards to make sure Christmas works – for everyone.

In this case, that includes my ex-husband, three daughters, grandchildren… oh, and me. Because damned if I’m going to miss out on spending those precious Christmas morning moments anywhere other than with my grandbabies.

As our entire family lives scattered across the Eastern seaboard, this is going to take some serious planning. And cost, too. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Christmas surcharge has already been slapped on all flights in December and early January, so unless you want to fly to Canberra on Christmas Day, you’d better book now.

I used to think Christmas was hard when I had three small children, a reasonably useless husband and 25 people coming for lunch but, even though I have finally learnt that it’s okay to just buy a damned pudding instead of making one from scratch, I find it extremely complicated now that there are adult children’s expectations to be managed, their partners’ families to consider and distance to be travelled.

So we’ve started making tentative plans and thus far they involve three Christmas lunches held on different days.

Aside from juggling family commitments, the trouble is my kids and their partners work so hard. There is a level of expectation that Grandma will save the day by rushing in at the last minute to help out with childcare or organising Christmas in those mad, mad days before the actual event.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t resent this, in fact, I love that I am in a position to help. But for all three children? I know already, in September, that I’ll be spreading myself too thin.

I’m not alone in feeling stressed out about Christmas. Last year, Relationship Australia released survey results that were, I suppose, designed to reassure us that we’re not losing our minds, we’re merely under the influence of Christmas-Induced panic.

The survey showed that close to 40 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women experience stress related to spending time with extended family, including in-laws at Christmas. Money, childcare, work pressures and relationships between family members were all factors that contributed to pre-Christmas stress.

For grandparents, the stresses are unique and can range from financial to personal. Speaking to my friends I know I’m not the only one who feels torn at this time of year. I’m just lucky enough to still be working and have the ability to jet around the country during the most expensive season in an attempt to fit it all in. Others aren’t so fortunate and some of the stories they have to tell about expectations from their families, well, let’s just say, they’re steep.

Are you in planning mode for Christmas? Do you find it stressful? What worries you the most? 

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  1. We have my son and his wife and child and another couple for Christmas lunch every year. It’s not a big deal but for some reason I seem to get in a dither about it. I usually start buying presents and bits from September on, this year I am going to wing it and wait till December and do the lot then!

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  2. No it’s not a nuisance. It’s fun. But confined to the Christmas period (December). Not September !!!

  3. My Christmases are a tired struggle every year. A 2000 klm drive to coffs harbour and spending it with my elderly mother. Then a 2000klm drive back home.

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  4. Too many birthdays before Christmas. So birthday gifts are a priority before shopping for Christmas. I tried the Christmas gift shopping months prior once. Never again as the family and friends I buy for end up buying those same items long before Christmas also lol. I’ll stick to late November/early December 🙂

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    • Most of my family also have their Birthdays near Christmas so I always have to decide early. I finished shopping in August & only have to wrap them up. However I’m changing to $$ for most of them & they can make their own minds up in future. A card & a $note will be simpler.

  5. I love Xmas & last year I had the family Xmas eve. Was much better as they did not have to run off to the next family do.

  6. Yes started yesterday buying a couple of things posted a parcel off the other day.

  7. We only buy for the youngest grandchildren now. Ours range in age from 23 down to 4 years old; so we have a big family get together (this, we feel, is more important ); and the little ones get their presents. We all enjoy watching them unwrap, and the adults have more family bonding time. Makes for a less stressful Christmas. So when the kids get to 18 the presents stop. They only get a present on their birthday.

  8. I love Christmas but each year it’s becoming harder to get everybody (16) available together . It’s now spreading over 2 or 3 days. We even had the extended family get together in mid November last year. Just not the same but better than not seeing them.

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