One of the advantages of Christmas arriving earlier each year (the shops start bulging with festive goods even before Halloween’s out of the way) is that you can start preparing well in advance.
This is a good idea, because the sentimental view of Christmas, centred on family togetherness, often bears little resemblance to reality. Many people find Yuletide an oppressive time, fraught with tension and disappointment.
The main reason for this is that men and women view Christmas very differently. For men, it tends to be an opportunity to have a well-earned rest from the office and over-indulge in good food and wine. For women, the Festive Season is possibly the most frantic, stressful time of the year. They have to shop for food and presents, plan elaborate menus, cook mountains of food, decorate the house, be nice to the in-laws and keep the kids entertained.
No wonder divorce lawyers are swamped with work in the New Year. Far from bringing families together, Christmas is often the trigger that drives them apart. If even happy couples can find Yuletide a difficult time, what hope is there for those whose relationships are already shaky?
Some years ago, it occurred to me that more could be done to make Christmas less of an ordeal for families – and for women in particular. If it was planned carefully, with less attention to creating the perfect Gordon Ramsay dinner and more attention to making the occasion stress-free by avoiding the obvious pitfalls, Noel might turn out to be what it says on the tin.
And so I wrote a book, How NOT to get Divorced After Christmas, offering ideas and advice on how to survive the Festive Season with your sanity – and your marriage – intact.
With sections aimed at both men and women, the guide looks at what can be done to ensure Christmas is the pleasurable time we all hope for and that, come January, couples won’t be dismantling their marriages along with the Christmas tree.
From tomorrow, the day the first window on the Advent calendar gets opened, we will be posting daily tips on Twitter, @benussi_co, to help people get ready for Christmas in an organised and measured way.
We’ll be covering the common traps people fall into as they attempt to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas, many of which stem from not sitting down at the start of Advent (if not before) with their partners to discuss what both of them (and the kids) want Christmas to look like, how to compromise and how to ensure everything goes to plan.
Identifying potential flashpoints – from back-to-back catering to dealing with the invasion of relatives – in advance and discussing how they can be avoided or managed will pave the way for a more harmonious Yuletide.
So check our Twitter account every day until Christmas – and find out how it really is possible to have a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
* Our book, How NOT to Get Divorced After Christmas: a Yuletide Survival Guide, written by Benussi & Co’s Senior Partner, Diane Benussi, is available, free of charge, from the law firm’s offices: 7th floor, Newater House, 11 Newhall Street, Birmingham, B3 3NY. Tel: 0121 248 4001 or email: Birmingham@benussilaw.co.uk.