The wrong kind of Christmas caught up to me today, as I stood in the kitchen, fighting with some concrete cookie dough.

I had this simple plan to make some goodie boxes – a few slabs of fudge, some spice cookies, an artfully designed gingerbread man. I assembled the ingredients, found the perfect boxes, made up a little witty ingredients card.

But all of that, I realised today, as I kneaded yet another stubborn ball of dough into shape, was about impressing people, instead of giving to them. I envisioned people exclaiming over my cookies, asking for recipies, writing glowing thankyou cards.

And the pressure (and in my case, pride and performance) doesn’t end there – afraid of offending, we send meaningless cards. We wander the aisles of London Drugs, looking for chocolate on sale and other ‘back-up’ gifts for last-minute guests and people we would have forgotten if they hadn’t sent a card first.

My week ahead is full of things to do, and I’ve been stressing about a dinner in the making, but as I sit here, warm and well-fed, loved and in good health, I realise that all that stuff I need to do is really just a way to feel better about myself, instead of giving my time and myself away this Christmas. Chocolate, cookies, cards, dinners, parties – they’re all vehicles of expressing love and friendship, merely the tangible transfer point.

So I’m trying to get past the vehicle, the details, and the “what if they wonder where our Christmas cards are?” and truly give of myself. I can’t do that when I’m standing in the kitchen, worrying about whether dinner was made well enough, or whether the cookies are going to be tasty enough. I just hope and pray this Christmas that the people I love will know just that – that I love them more than my own need to give the best, tastiest or most impressive gifts.