“Christmas Actually”

Presents under Christmas Tree

Screens will be filled once again this Christmas with stories of love in all its various guises and on a multitude of levels. The 2003 Christmas film “Love Actually” followed eight very different couples as they dealt with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London.

The film argued quite rightly that there is a great deal of love in our world including Bath, London and Wisconsin. But the film also reminded us that not everyone gets a Merry Christmas. A single present plucked from under the tree changes a life forever. A wedding video that shows only close-ups of the bride’s face reveals a hopeless passion.

A few years ago RELATE the relationship people, commissioned a NOP survey that revealed that Britons value their relationships above all else at Christmas. Yet, the experience of many family lawyers is an increase in calls for advice and assistance in connection with broken relationships during January and beyond – after the season of goodwill, when many hopes of togetherness and fulfillment have been dashed.

The same NOP survey claimed that 73% of us rate “spending time with family and loved ones” as the most important aspect of the Christmas holiday. But, the closeness we hope for does not just appear under the tree on Christmas Day. Our good intentions of talking more and spending time together often get pushed aside by the stresses and strains that is the modern Christmas.

The NOP survey found that Britons nationwide find “buying the right present” the most difficult Christmas task, with 59% saying they found it stressful. Other Christmas time stress induces were “spending too much money” – 54% with 39% of the population getting stressed about “not being able to spend enough time with family”. Worrying about buying the right present seems to be more of a problem for women, then men and spending too much money is again a female and young person’s thing. Other issues cited as causes of stress during Christmas were “people drinking too much”, “too much cooking and cleaning”, “children’s demands for expensive presents” and “having the in-laws to dinner or stay”.

Therefore, now is perhaps the time to prepare for Christmas by considering for a moment what we want our relationships to be. Talking it over with the people we love, exploring hopes and expectations, looking at what works and what doesn’t. In addition to buying the turkey, decorating the Christmas tree and wrapping the presents, think about

  • What your family might want to get out of Christmas this year,
  • Recognise how each member of your family is changing and discuss and plan how you all want to spend Christmas together.
  • Talk about how the time will be spent, make an effort to understand the position of others.
  • Talk realistically and well in advance of Christmas about spending.
  • If someone has planned a surprise for you, appreciate the effort and thought behind it.

The aging rock star in Love Actually recognised in time for Christmas the value of the relationship that he had and the importance of expressing Love. All personal relationships need to be worked at especially at Christmas.

Article by Richard Sharp

Richard is dedicated to helping clients avoid the trauma of prolonged conflict by finding solutions that benefit them and their families. He works to resolve complex financial situations, protect assets acquired over lifetimes, prioritise the needs of children, and reach outcomes that are fair for all parties.