So here we are on the third day of December and already the Christmas hysteria has begun. Please do not think me a “Bah humbug!” curmudgeon: it’s good that we have something to look forward to celebrating in the dark winter months, but I do feel that expectations are so high that the reality can only disappoint.

I loved Christmas when my son was young and well remember the magical aspect of anticipation, the writing of letters, the carrots for the reindeer and the mince pies and G&T for Santa (my husband didn’t drink whisky), the whole of my very large family gathering together and eating far too much. I am sure that none of that has changed for families with young children, but am I alone in feeling that the message of peace and goodwill has been swallowed whole and  turned into a commercial from which there is no escape?

For separated families this can become the most difficult time of year as parents strive to ensure that they can spend time with their children. In mediation the emphasis is on ensuring that children can enjoy this time without feeling that they are stuck in the middle of the two people they love most in the world.

Consider the terms “quality time” and “quantity time”: surely if children can see both Mum and Dad, no matter how briefly, on the day then that becomes part of their life story that is marked with happiness.

If we look at the premise of the Christmas story we find a kindly man betrothed to a young girl who is heavily pregnant – he knows that the baby is not his and yet he protects and cares for her and ensures that the baby is safely born. That kindness is the best present that we can offer to the human beings around us. I wish you all a wonderful time during the festive season with peace and goodwill abounding. Happy Christmas!

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