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The 'C' Word

22nd November 2021


‘The 'C' Word

Have you dared to utter it yet?

I know from experience poor use of it can cause extreme reaction from those who find it offensive. I was schooled from an early age of the consequences of poor use of it and also promptly corrected at times whereby my use of the ‘C’ word was incorrect. INCORRECT!! Is there a correct way to use the ‘C WORD’??

My Dad was the headmaster and teacher in charge of the schooling that I refer to. His own personal use of the word was impeccable. He seemed to be able to use it freely, at will and was able to insert it into conversation fluently with whoever and whenever he chose.

His ‘C WORD’ mission statement was simple;

“there are times and places son; there are times and places for everything. Choose your time and place well and you can’t go wrong”

Have you used it yet?

Have you found the right time, the right place and the right person to say it to?

I have!!

In the life I live now, I seem to start using it more frequently after the first viewing of the Coca-Cola advert, but have been known to slot it into conversation beforehand excitedly, all in anticipation of the unmistakeable jingle “holidays are coming, holidays are coming”.

By the time Sainsbury’s have allocated dedicated isles to it and Exeter City Centre is twinkling because of it I would have to admit to using it daily. I am of course referring to the ‘C WORD’ CHRISTMAS!!

What ‘C WORD’ were you thinking of?

“…..choose your time and place well and you can’t go wrong” HYDE.B (1985)

 Said at the right time, in the right place to the right person, Christmas is a word full of joy, excitement and wonder. Attached are the historical origins of the bible, the festive connotations of giving and receiving of gifts, the break from work, families gathering, food, drink, parties, hosting, guesting, snoozing, board games, walks on the beach, walks on the moors.

(I am sure that you have your own personal connections with the word that make you feel tingly about too.)

BUT, you knew there was a but coming didn’t you, correct, here it comes…….

BUT, for some simply the mention of the word CHRISTMAS can provoke undesired levels of deep emotional reactivity. It would be fair to say that in many households, simply the prospect of uttering the ‘C’ word can fill the air with toxic uneasiness and paralysing thoughts and feelings. Overwhelming body sensations can cause unhelpful behaviours. Often in a self-defence act, the ‘C WORD’ is not mentioned, it’s avoided and saved for another time to prevent the delivery of the can opening of worm context of;

 “so, what are we doing for Christmas this year?”

Christmas arrives every year with what seemingly appears to be increasing amounts of expectation, a demand for perfection and the ability to carve our way seamlessly through it all without incident or argument.

Of course, it can be this way. And for many, it is!

Nailing Jamie’s roast potatoes, bagging the prezzie of the year or reconnecting with absent loved ones to exemplify three metaphorical cherries to the top of the perfect metaphorical Mary Berry Christmas cake!

My blog today is not written for those who welcome and embrace every moment of the festive season, but my cap is doffed in your direction. Doffed in a congratulatory fashion for finding the formula that works for you.

It is doffed for being courageous to utter the ‘C’ word early enough to make plans.

It is doffed for opening up clear lines of communication to discuss the early plans that were not agreeable at the first time of asking and for fairer plans to be put into place.

It is doffed for refining the initial plans, in some cases over years. Making changes to the initial plans that were reactive and once caused upset.

It is doffed for not being content to settle for the annual build up of emotion. For just going through the motions and ‘doing it all again’.

It is doffed for being aware of your own needs and how these needs need to be met. Not in a selfish way, but in a self-care way!.

It is doffed for genuinely embracing the oddities of another family and their crazy Christmas traditions when two or more families collide.

It is doffed for authentically entertaining the incredible present opening routines, unconventional Christmas dinner timings and getting stuck into board games when you would ordinarily be settling into Eastenders.

It is doffed for suggesting Christmas is done ‘your way’ next year or working towards a new ‘our way’.

It is doffed for being courageous in conversations about finance. For setting price limits on gifts, for daring to say “let’s just buy for the kids” or the left field suggestion of a family ‘Secret Santa’ solution to endless panic buying!

It is doffed to those families who sort out rotas and take turns to host.

Doffed to those who opt out but chip in and to those who love to host and wouldn’t want it any other way.

It is doffed to those who host and ask others to “BRING STUFF!”

It is doffed to those who don’t drink and say “we won’t be staying”.

It is doffed to those who insist that you do.

It is doffed to those who simply don’t mind and just go with the flow and see where the ‘C WORD’ takes them.

This blog is not for those who do. This blog is written for those who ‘tend not to’.

At this time of year, I talk with many clients who are dreading everything that comes with Christmas. Over time Christmas has become the annual pressure cooker of negative emotion. Over time Christmas has crossed personal boundaries resulting in the feeling of being unheard, overlooked or ignored. Expectation, finance, pleasing, comparison, perfection, even ‘elf on the shelf!

In these cases, commonalities suggest that Christmas is left to chance. The ability for conversations to be had around the difficulties of last year are challenging, awkward or never had. Plans are left late or for the same unhelpful plans to be played out again and again resulting in unsuccessful historical repeats that create unhelpful cocktails of ‘deja vu’ with intoxicating results.

Despite this blog being written for those who don’t, it is essential to shine the light back onto those who do, the only difference is TALK!!

TALKING can help. Honest, genuine and authentic TALK. It is the only difference between those who do and those who don’t. Clarity of thoughts, courage to share feelings and bravery to maintain personal boundaries.

Opting in, opting out, staying, going, hosting, visiting, buying, cooking, peeling, cleaning, contributing, receiving, drinking, driving, playing, watching, snoozing, year with the kids, year without. It is complicated, but not impossible.

Knowing about all of this ‘stuff’ does not make you immune to the rollercoaster ride that is Christmas. Our roof and four walls along with many have much to juggle.

Personally, I love a blend of all of the above. The people who know me will testify for my love of going with the flow and simply seeing where we end up. However, the ‘C WORD’ in our house involves three families, three children, parents, step parents, three sets of grandparents. Uncles, aunties, nephews, nieces. Two countries, one ocean, three counties. Alternate Christmas days, alternate boxing days and New Year’s Eve parties that are decided as we go. We have those who host, we have those who don’t. Some that cook, most that drink (actually all that drink!). We have those who love to wash up, we also have those who don’t! But over time we are doing our best to find the best way. There is a very good chance that we will have another go this year.

What are you doing for Christmas this year?

Despite me throwing the ‘C WORD’ around within this blog akin to a pizza maker in Naples, I feel it is a little early to wish you all a Merry C.

This being the case, I will simply thank you for making it to the bottom line of this blog and wish you a Christmas to look forward to.

Take care,



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