The mince pie story

 

This week sees the launch of our new Christmas workshop: How To Love Christmas Again.

‘But it’s not Christmas yet!’

I hear you cry.

‘Nay, we’re only just tossing our mouldy pumpkins into the food trash, folding up our skeleton costumes and polishing off the dregs of the haribo mix.’

‘Why oh why are you ramming this stressful festival down our throats already?’

The answer is simple. Two years ago, I nearly got divorced over twelve mince pies and I don’t want the same thing to happen to you.

To set the scene: it was Christmas Eve. We were due at a family party. All three of my children had chicken pox.

Earlier in December I had asked my husband what he would like for Christmas.

‘Just make me some mince pies please’.

The mince pies in question were Josceline Dimbleby’s 1970s Mince Pies Deluxe made with orange pastry and cream cheese.

 
 
 
 
 
 

I dismissed it as an absurd request and filled a basket for him on the Hackett website. I then further depleted my bank account with general crap for my children that I knew in my heart of hearts I’d end up taking to the charity shop in a few months’ time.

Jump forward to Christmas Eve and my husband innocently enquired whether the mince pies were ready yet.

Recall, if you will, the scene from Oliver Twist when Mr Bumble turns to find the dear little chap standing before him with his bowl held out.

Things quickly escalated. An ugly fracas ensued. The stench of recrimination hung heavily over the entire festive period. We’d wrecked Christmas.

Several days later, after calling an uneasy truce, my husband and I reflected on this chain of events to see what if anything we might be able to learn from it.

He astutely pointed out that no one had asked me to do everything. That it was me who had taken responsibility for THE WHOLE OF CHRISTMAS and the happiness of everyone within that.

I was also sheepish to learn that he really did ONLY want those twelve mince pies for Christmas. And that the combination of eating something delicious, made by his wife, with love, with the nostalgia of his mother who always made Christmas special, was much more meaningful than something hastily snapped up on Black Friday.

 
 
 
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In this moment, I realised my foolishness. How had I been swept up by the layers of meaningless, of consumerism, of expectations and assumptions? How had I, a life coach and leadership trainer allowed myself to steer my family to this unhappy place. How had I managed to be so spectacularly un-self-aware?

Talking with other women, I took comfort to learn a certain apathy or downright resistance towards Christmas is not uncommon. It also dawned on me that the qualities required for outstanding leadership are those we need to develop and enhance around Christmas time. We need resilience, self-awareness, clear thinking, confidence, good communication skills - just to an even greater extent. If anyone was qualified to re-think Christmas and to reshape how we look at it, it was me.

And this is how I knew that using my own experience, I could create a valuable tool for women everywhere.

How To Love Christmas Again is a workshop designed to help you strip back and focus on what is truly important to you.

And why wait until the madness of the season has taken its grip, why not give yourself the best Christmas present: the gift of calm, of preparation, of the ritual of peace.

I’ll be on Instagram every day later in November and throughout December sharing my tips and strategies to help you stay sane and keep calm, happy and strong.

Or why not join us for our workshop on Wednesday 28 November.

 
 
 
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Jack Watkins