This could be the worst one ever, I told myself, terrified, as I dug out a moulded bag of tinsel from underneath a heap of builder’s rubble.

I always fear I won’t make Christmas come up to scratch, because it has to be perfect, doesn’t it? So if it feels like it is going to be anything short of that – never mind a long way short – I start to get the heebie-jeebies.

This year, I am renovating and it is touch and go whether I will have a kitchen. If I can’t negotiate belligerent builders, malfunctioning kitchen plans and warehouses short of stock, I will not be able to host a fabulous Christmas dinner in my wonderful new home at which everything is declared a huge success.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who mistakenly builds Christmas into a deadline by which everything that is wrong must be put right. Why else would they bother with those ads offering people shiny leather sofas or reassuringly thick oak dining tables delivered before December 25?

But really I should know better than to get sucked down the path of solving my life’s problems in time for Christmas.

Every year, God laughs at my Christmas plans. Thank goodness. When I look back over my best and worst Christmases, I find it is incontrovertibly the case that the ones that have surpassed all expectations and been a true delight, packed with love and meaning, have been the ones that had evaded my control.

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