of Christ. It is also the signal for a bout of goodwill and over-eating, followed closely by and indi gestion.
Christmas is the children's festival. It is also the signal for a bout of excitement and enjoyment followed by sickness and over-tiredness. Christmas can be a promise of family love and toleration or just a dread prospect of sheer exhaustion.
Christmas should be a time for rest and thought, recuperation and conversation — a chance to walk and play with the children, an opportunity for enjoying family. life. Too often it is the exact opposite.
In their endeavour to make Christmas memorable too many mothers work too hard, cook too much. eat too little and sink paralysed in front of the telly.
In an effort to take the work out of Christmas some people stay in hotels. But unless you have no family this is not a real Christmas, just another break from routine with a few crackers and funny hats to make it different.
Those who stay at home have the right idea, but the cost shouldn't have to be an exhausted mum. Ending up dead tired is not my idea of Christmas, or any other
mother's, but that's the way it seems to work out.
.Every bit of work, from buying postage stamps to filling stockings, seems to fall on her. Unhappily, unless she has willing older children, Christmas can be a gloomy prospect.
One friend of mine is positively dreading it. With four young children, a barrack of a house and days of catering to organise (how many loaves of bread will we need. how much butter?), she sighed, "I almost can't face it".
Like every other mum, however. she will — for what is Christmas without her? Who would make sure that stocking fillers are bought or that Uncle
Clarence gets his favourite tobacco? Who searches the house for last year's decorations. finds the Infant for the crib?
Who remembers to stock up on matches and candles apart from all the other hundred and one things that go to make a successful Christmas. Although they may sometimes wish to be Manes, all mums are Marthas when it comes to Christmas.
In an effort — not to save her work, for that would be impossible — but at least to make her life less harassed — I have worked out a scheme which anyone could follow. It depends upon organisation, for that is the only way to make Christmas more of ,a joy and less of a grind than usual.
Everything possible must be done in advance. Puddings should have been made by now, the turkey ordered and Christmas presents almost, if not quite, bought. Leave them until December and you not only find less choice in the shops you also have to contend with crowds almost worse than
the January sales.
A good ploy as far as presents are concerned is to buy each relative the game gift, especially if they are not likely to see each other very often. Married couples might welcome something for their home such as a pretty set of party table napkins or a candle holder with a decorative candle.
Smokers could be presented with an originally-designed ashtray. sweet-eaters with an exotic box of home-made chocolates, aged aunts with some gorgeous bath essence. None of these need be very expensive, and they will not tax the imagination one bit.
During the busy week just before Christmas when the kick are home from school, make use of them if they are old enough — or give them a large paint brush, a palette of block paints and wodges of newsprint (from all good art shops), if they are not.
For an investment of about 7s. 6d. you can keep the kids happy while you get on with the job. Happy Christmas!