Last year presented a new challenge for me, as, for the first time, my boyfriend, Pete, and I spent Christmas and Boxing Day at my flat.
|Photos: Helen Barbour|
I only had to remove a few items from the top of the table and replace the office chair with the dining chair that lives in the bedroom. Not a big deal for most people, but I might as well have been moving house, for the emotional turmoil this caused.
I concealed most things down the side of the table or behind the sofa, but couldn't forget that they were out of place, even though I couldn't see them. As I took the precaution of doing this on Christmas Eve, to avoid hassle on the day, I also had to live with the disarray that bit longer.
I hadn't got around to making the bed, so when Pete dumped his coat on it, the outside of that was touching the inside of the covers, which he didn't realise was a contamination issue for me. I tried to put out of my mind what his coat might have been in contact with - Tube train seats being the worst of my imaginings.
Then I realised that I'd forgotten to put any Christmas music on. While the table looked beautiful, the tree lights were lit, and an orange and clove scented candle was burning, I still felt as if I'd ruined the morning. I nearly despatched Pete back outside, to come in again, so that I could start things over properly.
Finally, I dropped a chunk of parsnip down the side of the cooker, while serving lunch, which meant we had 31/2 pieces each - not at all in line with my need for wholeness in my food.
It took me 21/2 hours to put things straight the following evening, including arranging my presents neatly next to the tree; a tidy display being the only way I can cope with new items in my home, until I find a permanent place for them.
While I was doing all of that, I had the BBC 24-hour news on, with its reports of flooded homes, power losses and lengthy flight delays. For thousands of people Christmas had genuinely been ruined. It was a salutary reminder that my OCD can easily make me lose perspective.
At least I'd managed to host the festivities at my flat - albeit on a small-scale - and tolerate the ensuing 'mess' for 48 hours. And, do you know what, I even enjoyed myself!
PS The sharp-eyed amongst you may have noticed that one knife and fork are set incorrectly - in fact, I'm left-handed and that's just the way I like my cutlery!