Christmas – when it all gets a bit much

There is a moment every Christmas, where everything just gets a bit too much. The moment when the to-do list suddenly feels too long; when the pressure to be perfect is too intense; when the hustle and bustle of the festive season feels too overwhelming.  There is a moment when suddenly the bubble pops and Mummy snaps.


My meltdown moment. It happens every year. No matter how hard I try to resist the pressure to make Christmas perfect, no matter how much I tell myself that it really doesn’t matter if third-cousin-several-times-removed Mabel doesn’t get a Christmas card this year – every year I succumb to desire to make Christmas magical and perfect – and just too much.

A cartoon sketch of a frazzled mummy trying to write a stack of Christmas cards while the kids dismantle the Christmas tree in the background

It doesn’t make Christmas magical. It makes Christmas – or at least the run-up to it – miserable. I want to enjoy the festive season, I want to relax, to have fun, to soak up the sparkle and recapture the magic that Christmas held when I was a child. I don’t want to be the grumpy mummy crying in the corner in the kitchen. The one who feels like she’s turned into Scrooge all of a sudden.


I know that the most important thing about Christmas is that we are together and enjoying time as a family. That the true meaning of Christmas is love and hope. It’s not about mountains of presents and piles of cards and stressful shopping trips on Christmas Eve.  I know that Christmas can still hold magic even in challenging circumstances – even if the magic isn’t always so easy to find.


There have been many challenging Christmases past. The Christmas where my dad passed away in the run-up to Christmas, the one where I was suddenly and unexpectedly made redundant two weeks before Christmas. Our first Christmas as a family spent in hospital.  Each of those Christmases taught me that togetherness is what matters – not the trimmings. So why do I still succumb to the pressure each year?


The trouble is, Christmas is like a magnifying glass. The stress of the season can highlight the fractured points in our relationships. The little niggles and minor irritations suddenly become blown out of all proportion.  It can intensify loneliness. That feeling of being on the outside looking in is more intense at Christmas than any other time. I know I am lucky. I am not alone at Christmas, I have a roof over my head and food to eat, a safe place to sleep. Yet for a short period of time, I appreciate none of these things. I forget my blessings, the things that are good in my life and let the stress, and the wants, and the negativity take over.  This isn’t right, this hasn’t been done, this needs to happen… WHY IS EVERYTHING ALL DOWN TO ME??!!


On the plus side, the one good thing about the meltdown moment is the clarity that follows it. It’s the turning point for me. Once the tears and the tantrums have subsided, there is calm and the realisation that none of the things that have been stressing me out really matter all that much. I just wish I could remember that before I become overwhelmed by it all!

14 thoughts on “Christmas – when it all gets a bit much

  1. I think most people have that moment (although I’ve avoided it myself so far this year!). There is so much pressure to get Christmas just right. I’m glad you get the clarity afterwards.
    Merry Christmas to you all. x

    1. Thanks Sarah – I know I’m definitely not alone in having a pre-Christmas meltdown. It’s all been good since then! Hope you all have a lovely Christmas 🙂

  2. You so eloquently describe what I think many people feel- they just don’t admit it to the outside world! I am sure you will make the most wonderful xmas for your beautiful girls who are lucky to have you x

    1. Thank you Gilly – it’s good to be honest sometimes! Hope you and your lovely family all have a wonderful Christmas too x

  3. It does get really stressful, especially if you are the main organiser! I always recommend people buying as much as possible ready made… and to skip the crafts! Makes Christmas much more fun when all you need to do is decorate and bang stuff in the oven 🙂

    1. Ready-made is a good way to ease the stress – I do that with the Christmas dinner – anything I can buy pre-prepared I will! I don’t feel the need to prove I can cook a roast from scratch (I do it the rest of the year!) – I’d rather go for the easy option and spend more time with my family. Hope you all have a lovely Christmas 🙂

  4. Well said. I’ve been that person for 40+ years, self inflicted mostly! I love the moment on Christmas Day when the presents are opened and dinner is eaten and every one is hopefully happy. Count myself lucky to have my family to share it with.

    1. Thanks Jenny – it is a relief to get to Christmas Day and yes that stress is mostly self-inflicted here as well! Hope you all have a lovely Christmas x

  5. I don’t think you’re alone. This year I’m a bit more relaxed about it – I still have 2 presents to buy plus 2 birthday presents for over the holidays too. But I’m pretty relaxed about it for the first time. But it’s certainly hard to relax.

    1. Thanks Emma – it is hard sometimes to relax and not succumb to that pressure. Glad to hear that you’re more relaxed about it this year and hope you have a lovely Christmas 🙂

  6. That’s a tough one, isn’t it? Last year, I found it all so stressful I ended up not writing a single Christmas card. I kept them for this year so the children had lots of cards for their friends! This year, I decided to make my life easier and less stressful by taking lovely photos of the children in October and turning the photos into a pretty card, with a nice message on the back. All we had to do was sign the cards (not even necessary as all our names were there!). I actually enjoyed the process this year! As for teacher’s gifts, I also thought about them a long time in advance. I haven’t yet thought about Christmas dinner, but I am refusing to get stressed about it all, even if that means eating beef rather than turkey, he he! We deserve to relax and have an enjoyable holiday too. xxx

    1. Love the sound of your Christmas cards – what a good idea! Glad to hear you are not getting stressed about Christmas dinner – beef sounds like a good option anyway! Hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas x

  7. Oh dear, I hope you’re okay. If it’s any consolation it’s not great at the other end of the spectrum either. I’m so laid back about things I inevitably forget a present and end up running out to grab one on Christmas Eve. Total nightmare!

    1. Thanks Nat – yes, all fine now – just had to get that meltdown out of the way! Your approach to Christmas sounds fairly similar to my hubby’s – on the plus side, we balance each other out well! 🙂

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