If there is a world ranking for the most thoughtful nations, Britain is set to win hands-down.
The other day when flipping through a magazine, I came across a photo of a woman in anguish, posed against a Christmas tree decked with shiny baubles and hand-painted decorations. The caption reads ‘Christmas stress’.
I was puzzled: stress?
It seems that Channel 4 website repeats the same message: it says that one out of five gets stressed during the festive season, and the Samaritans hotline receives 10% more calls during the Christmas holidays.
And once you start looking, it’s everywhere: survival guide for Christmas, destressing tonics, cooking help, nanny help, pampering kits and gadgets…for the phenomenal period of the year. There are round-the-clock ‘Christmas turkey hotlines’ for those traumatised by the turkey experience (i.e. overcooked or undercooked birds and so on) and in need of urgent professional help. A UK hotel offers promotional discounts to families who prefer or in a position to offload their relatives (mother-in-laws): http://www.mirror.co.uk/advice/christmas/christmas-news/2009/11/24/dump-your-mum-in-law-115875-21845318/
Having stayed in the UK last Christmas, I can’t wait to see the same last-minute, nation-wide panic again. It’s like a suppressed earthquake: long queues at the post offices, HMVs and bookstores, the sudden get-the-bird-race across all supermarkets, the disappearance of all brandy sauce, single cream, double cream and cranberries from the shelves. The countdowns and drawings put up at tube stations— “Christmas: 2 more days to go”…Then the eventual halt of all trains. Anticipating the phenomenal sales, those at home check their wardrobes and compile their shopping wish-lists.
Finally, thanks to The Daily Telegraph, people would know where to go as the last resort: phone company offers soothing sounds for stressed Britons during the season. Stressed and trapped at home or turning zombie-eyed from dull conversations? Dial up and you can listen to the soothing hum of the sea, the chirping of birds or the sounds of a countryside village, to distract yourself from the relatives.