When you're a kid, the best thing about the start of December is undoubtedly the advent calendar. Each passing day you're rewarded with a delicious treat before you head off to do whatever it is kids do...play Fortnite, presumably.
But when you're an adult, gone are the cheap chocolates replaced instead by painful 'end of year' catch-ups with every single person you've ever met.
"We need to find time to catch up with Christian," my girlfriend said to me last week while hovering near the calendar. Christian is our local barista; I catch up with him every day when he makes my coffee.
"Maybe we can squeeze him in before brunch with that Jehovah's Witness who swung by last week?" I countered.
It's this same 'Christmas is just around the corner' panic that taught me - quite literally - stuffing in too much can be very bad for you. A few years ago my brother and I decided to host a festive dinner for all our friends. The main event of the meal was a TurDuCken (a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey) that we'd ordered online.
We served it up, and the mood was merry as everyone attempted to figure out which bird they were eating, but half an hour later things took a turn for the worse. One person clutched at their stomach and excused themselves to the bathroom. Cue the Turducken Domino effect as the entire dinner party fell victim to horrific food poisoning.
It was a long night for our one bathroom terrace, the entire place quickly turning into a scene from The Exorcist.
As I watched my mother heave into the toilet, I swore to myself that never again would I try to fit too much in at Christmas time (or order an experimental Frankenfood from the internet).
Lesson learned: if I hadn't felt the festive pressure to host that dinner, I never would have poisoned my nearest and dearest.
Since that nightmare before Christmas, I've actively tried to keep December as quiet as possible, but it's been hard.
Harder still if you're #SingleAllTheWay come Christmas time because the entire season is engineered to make you feel that relationship = happiness. I blame Mariah's All I Want For Christmas Is You and the whole cast of Love Actually.
To make matters worse, this is also the period when you're forced to see family who you avoid for the other 11 months of the year. The small talk dries up around lunch time and inevitably someone will probe into your non-existent love life, and suddenly you're triggered before the trifle has hit the table.
The proof is in the (Christmas) pudding, with dating sites noticing a record number of sign-ups over the festive season.
According to a new survey conducted by Dating.com, 86 per cent of singles strongly agree that online dating is an excellent way to deal with sadness and being alone during "the most wonderful time of the year."
I've watched single friends increasingly toss their standards to the side as December 25th inched closer.
"Sure he's got a criminal record, but it was so long ago, and I'm pretty sure boosting cars is a victimless crime."
A Christmas miracle
There's an imagined belief that for some reason the end of the year might be a fertile time for new love, but if anything it's less conducive to coupling up. Come Christmas time we're all feeling more sentimental and happy, so you end up holi-dating.
That lasts till mid-January, and then the crippling reality of life pops up again, and by February you're back doing the Sunday-night Tinder scroll.
You're better off looking for love in March when all the public holidays are over, and everyone is sad. That way you know if you find something good, it's truly good, not being falsely propped up by the faux-shine of the holiday period.
Give me time...and space
But what we all need to realise is that sometimes the greatest gift you can give yourself is yourself. Rather than rush to fill your free time with dates or mates, allow a little breathing space.
Most people typically get a two week shut down from their work, so why not take that more literally and actually try to shut down.
Clear the schedule, lock the doors, enjoy your own company and absolutely, under no circumstances, order a Turducken online and serve it to people you care about.