So now it’s November. And suddenly it can’t be put off any longer. I am going to have to start thinking about Christmas. I know. It’s weeks off. Surely it can be avoided for a little while longer? Well, of course it can. How long can it take to do a bit of shopping, bake a cake and a pudding and write some cards? Not that long really if I am honest but in my head, along with most women of my acquaintance, it is a task of gargantuan proportions that will devour me like a monstrous, mythical beast if I do not strive to control and contain it.

First things first. I have now established which of my nearest and dearest will be joining us for the big day. This assists in ordering a turkey of the correct proportions and gauging the amount of pudding required. Other things are pretty much fixed in stone. I still have the same number of children to buy for as I had last year. No extras have crept into my life. The number of friends and family for whom I like to choose gifts remains pretty steady year on year as does the number of cards that I send so I have a pretty clear idea of the size of the task ahead. I also know what three out of four of the kids would like which means I can sort that, assuming that minds do not get changed in the intervening weeks.

But despite all this logical planning, my spine still does an involuntary little tremble when I allow myself to think about what I have to achieve. But why? I am a competent, efficient and organised woman. I have run Christmas more or less single handedly ever since I left home and whilst the task has got bigger over the years it is still well within my capabilities.

So when I try to analyse what gives me the collywobbles, I conclude that it is the unknown element which makes my nervous. If all I had to do was Christmas it would be totally controlled. I could designate particular days for the list of tasks that need to be achieved and gradually work my way down in until it was all wrapped and ready to go. But as everyone knows this is the real world and I cannot spend the next eight weeks doing Christmas. I, like everyone else, have lots of other things that I need to achieve over the next two months and Christmas just has to fit in and amongst. But feeling slightly out of control and with too many things to achieve is not a state in which I find that I sit happily. This is no surprise to me or anyone that knows me. I like order and plans and carefully considered timetables into which all my tasks slot neatly, leaving space around the edges for coffee dates and books. And it is the knowledge that, in order to get to the end of the list, I will have to forgo an element of control and go with the flow that makes my palms sweat.

So I will make a list, carefully assess the amount of time available to me taking into consideration my other commitments and make a plan that I can hold onto in times of panic in the full knowledge that I always get there in the end.