For me, Christmas stress starts when you decide to send Christmas cards.
Firstly, there’s the embarrassment you feel when you always hand over £10 to buy twenty 2nd class stamps and wait patiently for change before the cashier asks for more money because ten pounds no longer covers the cost.
They then ask if you want ordinary 2nd class stamps or Christmas stamps as if the future of mankind depends upon your answer but then you remember you’ve been sent so many dismal cards in the past, that a festive robin on the stamp has been cheerier than the card itself, so probably the best choice.
You always feel slightly smug when you’ve bought 2 packets of 10 cards for 99p each rather than the seemingly ludicrously more expensive box of 20 cards for £1.99p – saving yourself a penny.
Your joy is short-lived as you realise your packs of ten have only got two designs on the cards and you then carefully consider that you can’t send two of the same to your family in case they see each other over Christmas and recognise that you’ve sent the same card to each of them. Worse, if three work colleagues have your same cards displayed on their adjacent desks staring back at you to remind you of how thoughtless you’ve been.
The card selection process is only bearable because you always send cute reindeer cards to girls, snowy festive scenes to the adults and three wise men on a camel to the elderly to remind them of how they, themselves use to travel in the olden days.
Card sending was easier as a child because nobody you knew had children but then they grew up, got married, had kids and you cannot remember all their children’s names and their ludicrous popular misspellings, so you just add “and family” because it covers your embarrassment.
And you’ll always keep any leftover cards to send next year and hope nobody notices.