It must be nearly Christmas for real – not the phoney Christmas created by supermarkets which these days is interrupted by Halloween.  Trick or Treat?  I have never been sure that criminal law is suspended on October 31st so demanding (sweets) with menaces, assault (causing fear of battery) or behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace (annoying grumpy householders) are equally to be punished as administering noxious substances (covering Brussel sprouts in chocolate) or threatening behaviour (answering the door with a real axe in hand) [Query to self is that going too far?]

Halloween is supposed to be ghoulish and celebrate the Dark Side, whereas Christmas falling close to the winter solstice is meant to bring us cheer and the celebration of hope and light as the length of night gradually recedes. You have got to give the established church credit for choosing a good date for a focus for hope.

However, modern Halloween is probably more light-hearted than most people feel about Christmas.

Christmas is a pressured time – there are the practical and family-political arrangements to make (who gets Great Aunt ‘Smelly’ Nelly this year?) and having the glory of carving the turkey should be earned not expected simply due to alpha-male virility.  Inviting home a group of golfing buddies or hangers-on from the rugby club without consulting the cook is not going to earn a husband any Christmas treats.  Equally, failing to disabuse the children that anything they ask for is up for discussion may not be diplomatic when unexpected bills have shrunk the funds available.  Pressure comes from many places – wanting to please families and friends, practicalities that involve time/effort and financial pressures.

Pressure Cooker

Where there is pressure, there is scope for conflict and failing to think about or discuss the allotment of finite resources such as money, time or emotional energy makes it more likely that a couple will look back with regret over the fouled-up turkey or dog’s dinner of a Christmas pud. The pressure to have ‘a good Christmas’ is not restricted to Santa’s elves, so when it fails to meet expectations, it is a source of dissatisfaction generally and the other person will often be blamed. “That’s the last Christmas I put up with him/her…”

There is still time to discuss arrangements before the pressure builds up.