If Christmas did not exist it would need to be invented. Perfectly timed at the end of the year, it allows for many people worldwide to celebrate in some way, shape or form. This may be the formal religious celebration or simply a catch up with friends and family.

It endures despite the efforts of the humourless PC brigade to erase it. The “holiday” in happy holidays is only there because it is Christmas. Never in human existence has it been so controversial to simply call a spade a spade.

That said, it is also the case that Christmas is not a happy time for all. Those who have lost loved ones (especially recently) will feel a magnified sadness. For others who are alone this feeling can be magnified. And then there are those who get stressed about Christmas.

It always strikes me as odd that many adults look forward to Christmas being over. As children, they looked forward to Christmas. When did it stop being fun?

And what can we do to put the fun back in?

Like all things in life Christmas time will be what you make of it. The essence of the season is about relationships and giving not struggling.

If you don’t want to party then don’t. It is OK to decline invitations. Equally if you enjoy parties then go out and do so. If you don’t want to have a big meal, then you don’t have to. If you don’t want to cater for large numbers then don’t. Alternately ask everyone you invite to bring a plate.

There is no need to do more stuff or buy more stuff than you feel comfortable doing. Young children often enjoy the wrapping paper as much as the present inside. You don’t have to buy for everyone. Cards and small mementos can be as cherished as golden rings. Plus, use cash rather than plastic if managing the budget and not wanting a credit card hangover in January.

The power to choose rests with you so this year take the stress out of Christmas and have fun.

It is also a time where many of us overindulge a bit. It is worth remembering that many will not overindulge and many do not have much to eat not only at Christmas but all year round.

According to ozharvest food wastage in Australia costs $20 billion each year with four million tonnes of food waste going into landfill while 644,000 people get food relief each month.

The world produces enough food for everyone. The problem is distribution and government distortion. Last weekend, I bought some cheese at the supermarket. On reaching the checkout it would not scan. The checkout operator called her manager and it turns out that it would not scan because its “best before” date was the previous day.

It will be thrown out and be part of the annual food waste. The manager explained to me that by law they could not sell it. Keep in mind that had I bought it the day before it would be in my fridge and I could happily eat it without any law being broken.

“Best before” is a meaningless day. It does not mean the food will be “off” the next day. It is a guess made by the manufacturer, but is a government requirement. Industry loves it too as they get to sell more food to replace that which gets thrown out. No doubt an army of health and safety officers are kept employed monitoring this.

So, as usual, government which bemoans food waste is largely responsible for its creation. The decision to buy the cheese should be mine not the governments. If I am happy to eat it a day later its my choice.

We don’t want to buy food which has gone off. And stores don’t want to sell it as it is bad for business. But “best before” does not mean “off”.

Christmas is a time to enjoy good food and times with those we love. And to think about those less fortunate and how we can help them. Better use of food would be one.

This is the last column for 2017. Thanks to all readers for your support. We will return in January.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all.