Setting Christmas Expectations WAY Too High

Really don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re worth more than that!


Christmas and the Holidays are about connecting.  It all started with a little family celebrating the birth of a baby, and the guests pretty much either brought their love (the shepherds) or a gift each (the kings).

When we think about having enough for Christmas, some years we’ll be financially able to King It Up, other years you’ll have a shepherds heart, both are completely acceptable to people who love you.

It is ok to “cut our coat to the cloth” and have a financially and emotionally manageable Holiday Period.   In the old days, tailors would decide what coat they were going to make based upon the quantity and quality of the cloth they had in front of them.  The more cloth, the fancier the coat, the less cloth, the simpler, but there was always a coat at the end of the cutting and stitching, they just had to assess what they had and decide how to proceed.

It is easy to want to give family and friends the exact gift they want, and sometimes/quite often we can do that.  But sometimes we can’t.  I’ve always gone as extravagant as I could and struggled in November – January.  This time folks will be getting cute, fun, ideal gifts which perhaps don’t require us to sell a kidney or rob a bank and although humbling, I’m completely ok with that now.

Have a diary so you don’t miss fun events, and have a good gift wrapping kit with scissors and a proper tape dispenser to make life easier, and book a day off work if possible or set aside a non-workday to prep, then enjoy.  It doesn’t have to be stressful, it doesn’t have to make us frazzled.  We decide how we react.

If the priority is in connecting with those we love, or in caring for ourselves during this period, we can’t go far wrong.  If we are invited and want to go, GO!  Don’t let worry stop us visiting with people we love and having fun or kicking up our heels.  If we are lonely, find someone to serve.  It is the quickest cure for loneliness.  If we are frazzled, stop and think about the people you are attempting to connect with through lovely festive food and a gift.  When we remember the who and why, the how becomes less fraught if we let it.  If we are overworked, simplify and delegate.  There is no prize for arriving at the holidays completely overwhelmed and fractious, we determine our destination and how we arrive there.

For me, it is the traditions of Christmas that I remember the most from growing up.  Wearing your nicest clothes and PJ’s, those little sausages in bacon during dinner, seeing Nan and Granddad, taking a couple of hours out on Christmas day to colour in the new colouring books with new felt tipped pens while laying on our tummies on the rug.  I don’t really remember exactly what gifts arrived, we had a few great ones to be sure, but what remains is how I felt during those Christmas periods.  Grandparents are no longer with us but I can still feel being pulled in to a hug by Nan with a big kiss on my forehead and I can still see Granddad laughing and chuckling to himself with tears in his eyes after making a dad-joke type pun.

If all we can do this year is bring a Shepherd Heart, we’ve done a lot.

Deluded works both ways

Staff kitchen conversations change lives

Talk in the staff kitchen turned to the re-organisation and how it was influencing the decisions of the other person in the conversation. We were speaking of mutual acquaintances and positive plans for the next year. 

Then he said: “well, if I presented myself half as well as you in irterviews I would be a very happy person”.

This is where is shone next

“Huh?!”  (See, told ya!)

“Yes, a couple of years ago I had the good fortune of interviewing you, don’t you remember?  It was the most impressive interviews I ever witnessed and when you left the room the panel turned to each other and said ‘wow!  I don’t know why we went with the other person, your interview was by far the most positive, stand out experience of that recruitment cycle'”

“I remember now.  Thank you so much for saying that, I really appreciate it. You never quite know how you are perceived by others and that helps, thank you.”

“I am serious, I would love to interview as well as you”

“Well, that is interesting.  I was embarrassed that I didn’t get the role, and embarrassed that you’d been there and didn’t know if I should just hide my face and pretend it never happened and never speak of it again with you!”

“Maybe conversations happen when they are most needed, maybe it is advantageous that we are speaking now instead of when the experience was fresh”.

Don’t you love it when the threads in the tapestry of universe comes together to create a beautiful picture just when you could do with it most?

Remember when you nearly pegged it?

You never realise how comforting light and sound are until there is no light or sound…

Perhaps that is an exaggeration.  Nobody nearly pegged it or died.  But that is how it felt in the dark of the middle of the night when plunged in to perceived peril.

It’s 3am, you’re woken by a fizzing pop sound near your head, the lamp which you normally leave on is dark, the radio you normally leave playing through the night is silent and in your stupor you wonder why the alarm won’t tell you the time.

Gosh darn it.  Something’s up with the electricity.

You reach for the extension socket and can’t get it out of the confined space in which it lives.

You pull your bed away from the wall with the lack of grace so profound that scientists are starting to write papers on the absence of grace as a contributing factor in String Theory.

Your hand gets stuck behind the headboard so you have a little middle of the night panic.  The hand is free at last so you try again unplugging the surge protector finally.

Yanking cables and trying not to drop items off of the bedside table ensues.  It does not go well.

So, in the dark you find your way across the room to see if the light switch works and do a happy dance when it does.

You determine that happy dancing at 3.05am is not a beautiful sight to anyone but you so you calm down a little.

Walking back to the socket area you crack your knee on the out of place bedframe but don’t cuss anything worse than “for the love of Sundays” which is a great replacement cuss, it has all the cadence and resonance of something far more cussy, it is very satisfying.

Back at the socket you find and release the surge protector from its captivity and notice that the little surge light is the culprit for the fizzle pop – it looks bedraggled and burned out, having done its job admirably and the switch has fallen off.

More growling sounds from you and trapped hands behind the headboard later, we find a spare socket for the alarm clock and set that little beast in luminous neon Star Trek blue so that it can wake you in a couple of hours now.

You discard the spent surge protector.

You muse that thank heavens you heard the fizzle pop sound through your dreams and responded otherwise your family would likely have slept until noon without interruption.

You worry that your house is going to burn down and that you shouldn’t have taken the battery out of the smoke alarm when you cooked sausages yesterday.

You vow to learn to cook sausages without having to have an evacuation procedure in place.

You stare at the clock for a while to make sure that the numbers change as they should, you nod off.

Passion not Panic

Almost nothing is so urgent that it requires an absolute split second decision. There is time. Time can be our friend in most cases.

Chatting with a colleague friend yesterday I uttered the words “the decisions I’ve made recently have been borne of panic not passion” and a moment of clarity ensued.

I desire to live a life of passion, to passionately pursue my goals and to enjoy my 72 free goes around the Sun. Continue reading “Passion not Panic”

The surprise benefit of being free of bad debt

To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

I am pragmatic.  I decide to talk about positive things.  I believe we either talk and act ourselves in to or out of a happy life.  However I don’t care whether the glass is half full or half empty.  I know how much water is in the glass, I know what I am working with on any given topic.

So the benefit, or even blessing, of being unshackled by debt during a period of potential financial constraint is a superb comfort and reassurance.

Like everyone, I have income and expenditure.  Thankfully I was blessed with the moxy and ability to get out from under a serious financial burden in the tens of thousands of pounds range and reset the financial accounts to “we don’t have a lot but we’ve paid our taxes for the benefit of the country and what we do have is our own” as we paid down every debt we’d been left with.

When guaranteed income is in jeopardy we start to look closer at the expenditure side of the spreadsheet.  It has been one of the few delights recently that unlike previous times either house or income is at risk, this time I am not carrying a negative financial legacy like an albatross around my neck.

I have to find a way to generate revenue to cover our modest living expenses but I don’t have the worry of paying for things on instalments, I don’t have the worry of credit card debt, I don’t have the worry of consumer spending spread conveniently on an unreasonable monthly payment at an exorbitant APR.  I just have to make sure that enough comes in for Mortgage, utilities and groceries.  That’s it.  That is far less of an ask than carrying the worry of paying for something I bought and used up two years ago.

Being in this fortunate situation brings a degree of peace, a calmer disposition than I would otherwise have had.

It also frees me up to be flexible with regard to the future opportunities I can pursue.  I don’t have to find a position to cover Bills and Debts, I just have to find something to cover Bills and anything else is a bonus.  That is a freedom for which it would be hard to quantify the optimism and relief felt at the moment.

I am the head of my household and the responsibility sits on my shoulders.  Until you’ve been the head of the household you have no idea what so ever how heavily that mantle sits on the shoulders.  It is completely and utterly different to being the 2nd earner.  Head of the household is like being an Adult Plus.  Nobody is going to bail you out, you are it.  The buck stops at your feet.  The responsibility for keeping everyone in your abode alive, sheltered and fed sits with you.  Once you get the hang of it, it starts to sit easier a little but the knowledge in the back of your mind never actually quite goes away.

If I could wish for you one thing, it would be the freedom of being bad debt free.  It is worth the blood, sweat and tears, the overtime, the going without for a while, the humble birthday and holiday presents, the dinners in rather than takeaway or restaurants, the forsaking holidays in the sun or snow to reach the goal of being without that burden.

Bad times come for such are a part of earth life and mortality.  To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.


I Hate Sausages

I hate sausages.  There, I said it.  The food item is what I am talking about.  I buy a sausage roll to eat the pastry and discard the meat, I buy a sausage in a roll (a different thing to sausage roll) just so that I can have a warm bun and ketchup and throw the sausages away.  To be fair, the cheaper the sausage the better it taste but the less you want to think about the contents.  I eat sausages at home because it is cheap food and we are still of the pile it high sell it cheap variety right now at this phase of our lives.  I could never enjoy living in Germany or Poland, purely because of the culinary choices.  But I surely hate sausages.