Robbie Savage’s mum Val says nothing beats putting her arms around him for a big hug – Val Savage

Robbie Savage’s mum Val says: ‘It pains me to think lots of people are feeling overwhelmed just now. Expectations are often high before Christmas, but maybe they’re too high and make too many of us feel low’

Robbie Savage goes to see his mum Val regularly
Robbie Savage goes to see his mum Val regularly

If your To Do list is the length of your arm and you’re too stressed to feel any festive cheer, please have a little sit down.

It pains me to think lots of people are feeling overwhelmed just now. Expectations are often high before Christmas, but maybe they’re too high and make too many of us feel low.

So let’s take five minutes out to try to put everything in perspective.

If the thought of hosting Christmas dinner for a crowd is getting to much, rethink it as a Sunday roast with some little extras. It doesn’t have to be fancy chef quality.

And a candle in the middle of the table is simple and subtle enough to make it feel special.

Gift shopping can feel endless and frighteningly expensive. All this talk of Black Friday and Cyber Monday can make us feel as if we’re not doing our best if we miss the best deals.

Being with loved ones is what Christmas is all about


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But not bagging the latest must-have does not make you a lesser mum, dad or grandparent. I promise you, in years to come no one will remember the gifts they received or didn’t.

Your home doesn’t need to be worthy of a show off post on Instagram. It doesn’t matter if your baubles mismatch or you can’t wrap gifts artistically.

And no one will notice if all you have is a party dress you’ve worn many times before and you haven’t got a matching manicure.

Feeling well and being on good form is what really matters and spreads cheer when all the family get together.

So if everything getting on top of you just now, take some time to have a mince pie and an evening with a festive film.

And if you really want to feel good, forget spending money on a bath salt set for friends who’ll already have a dozen in their cupboard.

Don’t let the demands of a perfect Christmas stress you out


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Instead, donate to a charity like The Salvation Army. They will give a hot meal and a warm bed to someone who doesn’t have a roof over their head for £19.

Helping others is the only way to regain the warm, tingly feeling we had as children at this time of year.

Appreciating what we have and helping others who have less is the real meaning of Christmas.

Never mind Arwen, I’ve got Storm Robbie.

Storm Arwen blew tiles from my roof and a couple of days later an even fiercer tornado ripped through the inside of my house: Storm Robbie.

My youngest son burst through the door and says: “Kettle on mum?”. He immediately switched my TV from My Kitchen Rules to the sports channel.

And while he kept me up to date with all his news he paced up and down and seemed to visit every room in the house.

Robert could never sit still. I was exhausted just watching and listening to him.

Although we see each other and chat every day on FaceTime, nothing beats circling my arms around my son and giving him the biggest hug.

As he drove off I felt tearful. Sentimental thoughts of how this used to be our Robert’s family home but he went off and made his own family made me a bit weepy.

I love our Robert’s bones. But I needed two Anadins after he left.

You’ve heard of stir crazy? Well I am stew crazy.

On Monday, my friends Billy and Sue called to drop off some delicious corned beef stew and a baguette to mop up the gravy.

On Tuesday, Sheila made me a beef stew and chocolate brownies.

Wednesday saw Janet call with potato and leek soup and you’ve guessed it: stew.

And on Thursday our Jonathan popped round with leftovers from their evening meal of… stew.

I never refuse it and always enjoy it. Because although ready meals are nice and handy, nothing beats home made.

Knowing a meal is made and delivered with kindness makes me feel warm and content even before I’ve eaten the first mouthful.

Hearing about young people who can’t afford to buy homes in the Welsh villages were they were brought up upsets me.

But it doesn’t surprise me. It’s great to hear that people love Wales enough to want holiday homes here. Yet it’s sad that house prices have risen so high, locals with emotional attachments and family histories are being pushed out.

Deposits these days can be tens of thousands of pounds and few people can afford that.

Me and my late husband Colin paid a deposit of £150 on this house. And I know I seem to say this all the time, but once again I wish some things were just as they were back in the old days.

It’s about time face coverings were mandatory in shops and pubic transport in England again, just as they are in Scotland and Wales.

It’s about time face mask wearing in shops was mandatory


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But how will it be enforced?

If it was up to me, I’d stand outside shops and say: “If you’ve got proof you’re exempt from mask wearing, please show me. And if you haven’t, put on your mask on or on your bike.”

I’d make a great security guard. There’d be no mucking about because I’d wave my walking stick at anyone breaking the rules. And no one wants to see me angry.

A reader called Chris has written to ask where I bought my slippers. Whoever would have thought I’d be a fashion icon at 74?

I’d only ever buy slippers from Marks and Spencer or Primark because they have the softest, warmest pairs. Same goes for PJs and dressing gowns. Come to think of it, that’s all I ever wear these days.

I cut a dash in Mary Quant through the 60s, went fully flared and flowery in the 70s, borrowed shoulder pad style from Princess Di and Alexis from Dynasty in the 80s and after that found my own style of easy to wear and wash leggings. This new style era is called given-up-and-just-being-comfy chic.

  • If you would like to contact Val, please email feat[email protected]. or write to Val Savage, PO Box 7290, E14 5DD
  • The Mirror makes a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society in lieu of payment.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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