There’s no doubt that the holiday season conjures up a collection of feelings. Everything from reflection and melancholy, to stress and pressure. The pressure to pull off the perfect holiday is the most common, yet rarely admitted.
My holidays as a child is one big blur. We were all over the place and the only hard and fast tradition I remember, was the treat of opening our gifts on Christmas Eve. When I was about 8 years old, my parents started going through a divorce, War of the Roses type thing. Holidays were never the same after that. I’m sharing that because I’m sure all of us can remember a holiday where something went wrong or something stood out that resurfaces every holiday season.
The interesting thing is that between television shows, commercials, movies and magazine articles, there is a lot of pressure to have a perfect holiday. How ’bout those families in the Target commercials? Are they perfectly perfect or what?
For those of you that have had the unique experience of having nothing but perfect holidays, congratulations, you’re right up there with the big lotto winners. But for the majority of people, the holidays are always accompanied by an unspoken pressure to be perfect. But realistically, the perfect holiday is the one that is created by you, straight from the heart, creating your own traditions.
A number of years ago I was talking to a friend of mine and I told her about my struggle with Christmas and Thanksgiving due to family history. She said to me, “It’s never too late to create your own memories and start your own traditions.” That comment rocked my world. Wow, creating my own idea of a great holiday versus trying to recreate someone else’s.
The truth is that nothing is ever perfect, and it’s likely more common during the holidays. With a myriad of personalities, temperaments, expectations and so on, the holidays are actually tough. But with a little shift in mind set, losing the idea of a perfect Christmas or Chanukah you may actually start to enjoy the holidays more fully. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Take opportunities to spend 5 minutes alone during the holidays a few times per week to just be. Meditation, whatever, just quiet time.
2. Envision your idea of a great holiday, it may simply be to keep Aunt Marge and Aunt Gladys away from each other!
3. Keep expectations healthy. There’s always the possibility that the roast might burn or your grandson might throw up on your new carpet, or Uncle Joe has one too many Manhattans. Bottom line, you have to let it go. Deep breaths and lots of smiles. Create a mantra in your head such as, “It’s the holidays, a time for family and friends with unconditional love.”
4. If you don’t have the best memories of the holidays and they’re not particularly your favorite time of year, volunteer. Get out of your self and do something for someone who likely just wants a warm meal, and a soft bed to sleep on. It does put things in perspective, trust me.
5. Create your own tradition. The tradition I started with my family is every Christmas eve, my kids get to open one present and it’s a game. We spend the rest of the evening playing the game and laughing a lot. It’s simple. Is it perfect? I’m not a believer in perfection, all I know is that at the end of the day, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it.
Here’s to creating your own magic!