Is it weird I can relate to both the characters Buddy the Elf and the Grinch? Such polar opposites — from one of the biggest, most over-excited fans of December 25 in all its tinsel glory, to its green-faced mortal enemy — you wouldn’t be far off assuming I have a split personality about Christmas. I alternate between being a closet Christmas tragic, reverting back to being a big kid and secretly enjoying all the carols and decorations — as long as they don’t start before December and I don’t hear Jingle Bells on the 20th repeat — and wanting to tear down the commercialised institution it has become and skip the day altogether. I’m not sure how I feel about Christmas 2021, mainly due to the fact it’s come about so fast. But my “bah humbug” problem always seems to be the weight of expectations. I get excited in the lead-up to the big day, and then it arrives and something inevitably goes awry. So, my Christmas goal this year is to pretend it’s not Christmas and then maybe the actual day will be enjoyable. But it’s like that with any best laid plans, isn’t it? The bigger you build them up in your head, the more likely it is they will come crashing down. Case in point: a recent milestone birthday that had been carefully curated and planned to be a week of pampering, feasting and wine-tasting down south was nixed literally at the last minute due to a family emergency, which led to a couple of people pulling out. Reservations and accommodation had to be cancelled, but a quick revised plan saw a smaller group of us head to Perth — enjoying things about the city I had lived in for 15 years but never had the time to do, including spending some down time at Rotto. It wasn’t the birthday holiday I had wished for, but sometimes unexpected plan Bs work. Back to Christmas, they are not always a disappointment, but can often not live up to the hype. But silly me for continuing to believe the hype. Whether it’s someone with a crabby Chrissie attitude, going above and beyond in the Christmas gift-giving and lunch stakes, or spreading yourself too thin trying to please too many people, it can often seem the effort is not worth the reward. It can be hard work and tensions can rise — two things which should be the antithesis of Christmas. Thankfully, my family dispensed with the tradition of buying a present for everyone years ago, and now we pick a name out of hat and buy for one. But as I get older, I’ve realised my expectations of Christmas have been skewed. The reward should be just having the day off work and spending it with your nearest and dearest (if you’re lucky enough to do both) and being grateful for the good things in your life the other 364 days of the year. Not about achieving some lofty goal or racing around to see everyone so you don’t get a minute to yourself. So if I treat December 25 as just a day when I can eat good food, have a guilt-free afternoon nap and be thankful for my lot in life, I’ll consider it a win.