'Tis The Season To Be Tidy
Woman & Home|January 2020
'Tis The Season To Be Tidy
The guests are due – but does it really matter if the house is in its usual state of chaos, wonders bestselling novelist Katie Fforde

I always feel a bit conflicted when I know Christmas Day is to be spent at my house. Half of me likes the control – it’s up to me when we start drinking (early), what we eat (not always turkey) – but there is also pressure. It’s important to me that everyone has a lovely time and it’s up to me to make sure they do. I’m not so happy when my husband decides to eat one of the kippers he has been given by his stepmother as a present for breakfast, and it’s the smell of stale smoked fish that permeates the house instead of a rather expensive scented candle and hyacinths. (No, he never quite got that he’d done the wrong thing.)

Family parties – and Christmas is The Big One – are a bit different from parties where you only invite your friends and neighbors. While it should be easier – it’s just family, after all – there can be pressures that don’t exist normally. Your family are quite likely to criticize you, while your friends are a lot less likely to say, ‘Darling, how do you cope with having all these things! Why don’t you hire a skip and get rid of it all?’ (Yes, honestly, said to me while I was on my sickbed with life-threatening flu.)

My children know exactly how untidy my house is because they visit often, my sister also, but far-flung family may well be critical.

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January 2020