As we strive for the perfect Christmas the last thing we want is Christmas chaos!

Is it time to rethink that? We can watch the adverts and read the magazines telling us how Christmas should be done. If we blog, the pressure mounts as we see what bloggers and vloggers are up to over the festive period. It it time for us to do things differently and to embrace the Christmas chaos?

1.Christmas dinner – I am quite proud that years ago I worked out that we could save ourselves a heap of stress by letting the children decide what they want to eat. So it might be sausages instead of turkey and chocolate pudding instead of Christmas pudding. They can each choose what they want and it works for us. It cuts down on food waste too. Last year we had toad in the hole followed by Mississipi Mud Pie!

2. Christmas tree – I got rid of our tree and decorations in a big decluttering exercise not long ago. Now the children have said they still want the house to sparkle. So this year we are doing it the home-made way making a tree out of branches from the park and our decorations out of pine cones. It will be fun to do it differently and with a less of a commercial edge. I will also be making some stockings or at least attempting to.

3. Gifts – I usually buy too much and as the children have got older, all they really want is gaming stuff. My teenager took his sack of presents upstairs last year and I found them not played with. So this year they will get stuff they actually wand and that I can afford. Any savings I manage to make will go to the local Foodbank teaching the kids a valuable life lesson.

4. Guests – After a stressful Christmas a few years ago due to a pompous guest, I decided that Christmas Day would be just our little family unit. It means I don’t have to feed the five thousand and try to please people with different tastes. The only thing that got me through that Christmas long ago was when my daughter spread polysterhene “snow” all over the said guest’s room serving up the sweetest revenge without me having to do anything.

Forget perfection! Good enough will do and chaos tends to result in the best memories anyway.

3 Little Buttons

Every day matters and I think you believe this more as you get older. Perhaps because we have lost loved ones and become aware of our own mortality or just because we value ourselves more, every second starts to count much more.

A New Year is just around the corner and I think many of us will be happy to see the back of 2016. Political decisions may not have gone our way and lots of us are reeling from so many deaths this year of folks who inspired us with their writing, comedy and music.

So what will you do with 2017?

Do you like a paper diary? I know there are apps and stuff but I personally love the look and feel of a good diary. I am happy to recommend the Every day matters diary which encourages us to have a year of inspiration for the mind, body and spirit. Sounds good right?

I love the A5 size diary because it is so attractive and not just on the outside. It is very colourful inside with a vibrancy that cheers the soul. If you are a fan of inspirational quotes and affirmations, this is the diary for you.

The diary works as ordinary ones do so you can keep track of your appointments and to-do lists. However, you can also use it as a personal development workbook as it has searching questions and monthly themes such as positivity, love and empathy.

There’s a section for your to make important notes at the back so that you can launch yourself in a super-charged way into 2018.

Every Day Matters 2017 Diaries
A Year of Inspiration for the Mind, Body and Spirit
By Dani DiPirro
Paperback- £12.99 (Desk Diary), £6.99 (Pocket Diary)

Random acts of kindness really do change lives.

This week, I was delighted to do one in a charity shop. An immigrant couple and their toddler were in the same shop as me. I think it is fair to say that I live in a place where immigrants are not viewed as particularly welcome. I wonder what it is like to be viewed with hostility and suspicion on a daily basis. I wonder what it is like to live in fear and perhaps particularly after the Brexit vote when attacks on the different seem to have increased.

As children will, the toddler was attracted to a colourful toy. The father presented a £20 note to the woman on the till who ranted that she could not take that. He went to his wife who handed him a £10 note. Again the woman on the till rejected it in an offhand manner.

Now as a mum to tweens and a teen, I still remember that when young children want a toy if they are denied it, a tantrum may well follow. I watched as the couple tried to find change smaller than a tenner and failed to do so.

The woman behind the till did not care. I intervened as the couple became more and more flustered. It turned out the toy was only 50 pence so I threw a pound at the woman who said I was so kind. She managed to find change for me interestingly.

The couple expressed surprise and thanks. The toddler was happy.

Job done for just 50 pence.

It cheered my soul and as it will the universe paid me back with friendly smiles and wonderful surprises.

Random acts of kindness are great. They show the way we should live. They ensure the recipient gets an easier time of things. As for the giver, there is no greater feeling than knowing you made a difference, albeit a small one but perhaps one that brightened someone’s day.

It’s a week where I am pleased with myself for standing up for other people.

Earlier in the week, I was in a charity shop when I noticed a board game with convicted paedophile Stuart Hall on the front of the box grinning. This was placed on the shelf highlighted as potential Christmas gifts. I did not like the idea of it being there at all. I am very much of the view that it can’t help victims of child abuse to keep seeing images of those that abuse in the media and so on.

However, we are too often encouraged not to make a fuss so I walked out of the shop but remained troubled. The next time I was in there, I bought some Christmas decorations and Stuart Hall was still there. Suddenly, I found myself stumbling through words trying to highlight the issue with the two women behind the counter. One seemed a little aggressive and as if she could not see what i was getting at. The other starting googling Stuart Hall and then went into the back presumably to find the manager or something.

At this point, I was embarrassed and flustered. Imagine my surprise when the woman who had being off with me suddenly disclosed to me that a family member had abused her as a child. So as well as apologising for making a fuss I was now saying sorry to the woman for bringing back unpleasant memories. She said I had no need to say sorry and I left the shop.

I went in again today and noticed that Stuart Hall was missing. As I was browsing the bric-a-brac, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It made me jump. It was the woman again saying they had got rid of the game. I felt a bond, two women one a victim and one not united against child abuse.

I am not naming the town I was in or the charity shop brand as it is not necessary.

What I will say is that perhaps charity shops should be issuing their staff and volunteers with guidance on products that have a connection with child abusers.

On reflection, I am proud of myself for having my say, blushing, stumbling but raising my voice all the same. The more we do this, the less power abusers have whatever game they think they are playing.