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SW France Life Concerns

Katie Gardner is a fully-qualified CBT Counsellor and 10-year expat based on the border of 47/24. She is here to answer your questions. www.

If you have a life concern that you would like to share, please write to Katie c/o

Georgia asks:

I know I am not alone in this but I have the in-laws coming on Christmas day – 10 of them! I get on with everyone apart from my husband’s father who can be very difficult. I feel the stress levels rising already, not just with the cooking but, also the preparing the house for visitors, will my schedule allow us to watch the Queen live, where will they flop after lunch, how to entertain the children, how big a turkey, etc. Any advice?
Georgia N

Hello Georgia.

I feel your pain, as I know many do at Christmas time. Part of the day itself, for the visitors, is that they don’t quite know what to do; conversation flags, rubbish on TV etc. So involve them and do it now so they know what the plan is in advance. Most people would prefer to be doing something and what better distraction than helping out?
First of all, sit down quietly, as soon as you can, and make a list of everything that needs to be done. Then allocate various tasks to the family, making a second list of who can be responsible for what on the day itself. Maybe the children could make table decorations or place-cards? Others could be responsible for sourcing, buying and serving drinks (alcoholic and non-). Enlist help in the kitchen, pre-lunch, and make it a joint (pardon the pun) effort. Where possible, organise others to bring a side-dish or pudding or, at least, mince-pies etc.

As far as your father-in-law is concerned perhaps he has always been “king-pin” in the past and feels sidelined with advancing age? Talk to your mother-in-law and/or your husband; ask them to think how he could be more involved and make your husband responsible for his welfare on the day.

Remember, the only person who is expecting things to be perfect is you. Confide in those who care for you, enlist their support; it will help make their Christmas too.

First published in the November/December 2018 issue of The Local Buzz


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