It's that time of the year again.
The time when so many families feel enormous financial pressure to buy gifts for others.
The time when people feel pressured to visit people they don't particularly like, to sit with them, eat with them, and endure them until it's thankfully time to retreat back to the safety of home.
I come with glad tidings.
In terms of reducing financial pressure, what about, instead of buying gifts for people, you write them a card telling them how much they mean to you and sharing your hopes for them for the future?
What about baking them/their family a plate of ANZAC biscuits?
If you are cash strapped and are worried about buying gifts for your immediate family, talk to them about a gift price limit.
One year my family did it particularly tough, such that the Salvation Army helped out.
In other years we have instituted a $5 to $10 limit for each other's gifts.
This requires creative thinking and visits to Vinnies and the Salvos, but it is always surprising how far your purse can stretch.
The key to having a good Christmas without incurring debt is to communicate to each other now about what your intentions are.
In terms of your mental health over Christmas, make sure that you don't spend time with people you don't like or push your buttons.
If you are compelled to visit family who fit into the above categories, set a time limit, and tell them that you can only stay for a set period of time.
If, by the time you read this, you have already committed to travel and stay with relatives, make sure that every day you get out and about away from vexatious family.
Make a commitment not to talk about politics, religion, or topics that will spark debate.
If all else fails, count to ten before responding to something designed to make you anxious, angry or sad.
Keep a diary where you can record your thoughts and keep it hidden away.
Never commit to a repeat visit.
Christmas carols speak of Christmas as a time of peace, love, and good will to all, but it can be a time of stress and unhappiness.
My experience has shown that preparation and communication can make a world of difference.