We're thrilled Christmas is cancelled and we don't have to see family – no more tears, fights and flying canapes

STARING at the twinkling lights of her Christmas tree, Yasmine Camilla felt nothing but despair at the prospect of another Christmas with her family, endless fiery rows and the huge expense of gift-buying.

So when Covid restrictions to the festive season were announced last weekend, she was delighted.

And she’s not the only one.

While millions of Brits were heartbroken that their Christmas plans had been torn up because of the strict tier system, mum-of-three Biba Tanya also jumped for joy that her traditional plans could no longer go ahead.

Here they share why they couldn't be happier to leave the arguments, tears and flying Brussels sprouts behind them and celebrate differently.

'It was worse than planning a wedding'

Mum of two Yasmine Camilla, 34 is refusing to spend Christmas in the traditional way this time round, after years of stressful Decembers.

The project manager from Penge, South East London, has even given away her Christmas tree and has taken her kids, Callum, eight, and Amber, five, to a two-bedroom rented apartment at Margate for a week.

Yasmine says: “Every Christmas since I was little has been fraught with family arguments. 

The pressure to ensure we saw all the family and a battle of who was the ‘hostess with the mostest’ always ended in tears. 

It became an exhausting three-day affair with everyone having to troop to at least four different homes for endless turkey and trimmings.

That pressure for the ‘perfect Christmas’ only increased in my twenties too, with social media and Instagram making it a competitive sport.

Christmas Day always saw at least one third of the guests not talking to each other, hostesses with pained expressions and someone stealing the sherry. 

Then, when my children were born, "mum guilt" only made it worse. 

Having to decide which grandparents we saw, worrying about food and people offering unsolicited parenting advice was overwhelming. I was constantly worried about spending more and more on presents too. 

In 2018 my anxiety hit the roof. My long-term relationship fell apart and Christmas became even more complicated. 

Then last year I reached my limit. I worked out the whole thing cost me £2,000 – including hours planning menus, negotiating with relatives, working long hours to pay for it and squirming over seating charts. It was worse than planning a wedding. 

I’ve spent most of this year paying off the cost of the gifts and trying to mend the fractured family relationships. 

I’m a project manager who works on building sites, and it’s easier to boss around a bunch of blokes than it is to handle my rellies over Christmas. 

Lockdown made the prospect of organising another Christmas unbearable. 

I’m a single mum and this time I’m refusing to let the stress get on top of me.

It feels like the last taboo to not see your relatives but I’m done with feeling obliged. I simply didn’t fancy another December 25 washing a miss-directed smoke salmon vol-au-vent out of my hair. 

I have work next week in Margate so I hired a two bedroom apartment by the sea. I told the kids we were going there for a holiday and they could open their gifts whenever they wanted. 

I gave away our Christmas tree to a local charity two weeks ago and Callum and Amber didn’t notice. 

They’re thrilled they didn’t have to do the typical Christmas and are overjoyed at the thought of running on the beach. 

The supermarket had run out of roast potatoes, but I grabbed some oven chips, roast turkey, salad and some chocolate cake. I paid around £40 and the gift budget this year is £200 – ten percent of what I normally spend.  

It feels like the last taboo to not see your relatives but I’m done with feeling obliged. I simply didn’t fancy another December 25 washing a miss-directed smoke salmon vol-au-vent out of my hair.

If the kids want baked beans instead of a roast I will be thrilled. Of course I love my family but secretly I think everyone is a little relieved. 

I am proud we’re starting a new tradition. We’ll Zoom the relatives but I believe a bit of distance makes the heart grow fonder. 

So many people have been calling me in floods of tears because they can’t get the cranberry sauce or the special Brussels sprouts they need. If we’re to cope in 2021 we need to re-think our version of family and tweak the traditions. 

I will be happier, healthier and unbruised from careening canapés because I ticked the ‘opt out’ box. 

Old Christmas is cancelled and my re-booted festive version is working for me. I don’t care what anyone else thinks." 

'Canapes would fly and someone always stormed out'

Mum-of-three Biba Tanya, 39, fled her home in Clitheroe, Lancs, in March to move to Greece.

The advertising copywriter and her two youngest kids, Tabitha, six, and Lola, two, are now spending Christmas in the Algarve, Portugal, and will eat sandwiches on the beach without a tree in sight.

Biba says: “In March, just before quarantine 1.0 hit, I broke up with my long-term partner. 

The prospect of lockdown and then Christmas in the UK was too much and I moved my two youngest kids to Greece.

Christmas has always been a living nightmare for me. I’d constantly be overwhelmed with pressure and stress trying to please the extended family. 

There were arguments, canapes would end up flying within ten minutes and someone always stormed out. 

If someone didn’t lob a Brussels sprout at someone within ten minutes and end up locked in the bathroom crying, Christmas wasn’t complete. 

The stress as a mum was overwhelming too. I was horrified at how commercial the event had become. 

The looming obligation of visiting relatives, pretending everything was perfect and fake smiling had got too much.

Last year I spent over £1,500 on gifts and food. I didn’t enjoy the day, the kids weren’t happy and travelling to different family homes exhausted us. 

So I decided enough was enough. 

We arrived in the Algarve two weeks ago for Christmas here, while my eldest son Seb, 18, is spending it with his dad. 

Friends thought I was bonkers not coming back to England.

Other people would whisper they hated Christmas too but it wasn’t the done thing to talk about it. I ultimately realised I was wasting money and time for one day. 

Opting out and enjoying myself in the sun is the best decision I have ever made. I am breaking the last Christmas taboo and I’m glad my kids can see me doing it.

If my daughters were in Britain they’d be begging for an iPad and demanding the must have gifts. Instead, they’re running around on a beach and only vaguely aware it’s Christmas. 

They share more, are more concerned about the environment and how to help, less selfish and happier.

As for me – I used to break out in pre-Christmas spots and stress rashes. But the constant headaches I had in Britain have now been replaced with glowing skin, a smile and a renewed love of fitness. 

I only spent 10 Euros (£9) on each of the kids’ gifts and got books and some stocking fillers they wanted. 

We don’t have a Christmas tree, we’re taking fruit and sandwiches to the beach and will stay there all day. 

It’s a budget Christmas but stress free. Covid has made the festive season even more demanding on people – but I refuse to be tagged with the quarantine Christmas guilt of choosing relatives and bubbles. 

I am doing what is best for me and the kids. They now know tradition is what we make as a family. 

I don’t care if people tell me I am selfish because if I can have a Christmas Day free of arguments and anxiety – it’s worth ten relative-laden festive events.

I think it has just become too toxic. This is my game-changer Christmas and I am so proud I had the guts to do it." 

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