The holidays are rarely as magical as media and entertainment have made it out. Those Norman Rockwall covers in magazines and in commercials show a perfect family having a perfect meal dressed in perfect clothes in a perfect house. Hopefully we all know that nothing in life is perfect. Well, with the exceptions of a beautiful sunset, the occasional rainbow or laughs and coos of a sweet baby. But those moments are fleeting and soon are replaced by the storm clouds moving in or that sweet baby barfing all over you. It’s just life, and it’s messy.
So as the holidays are upon us, I just want everyone to know that it’s okay to have an imperfect holiday. The turkey maybe burned, family may not be speaking to one another, we maybe even spending the holidays alone. What we have a choice of is what we make it mean. A counselor once told me, “you are judging your insides by other peoples’ outsides”. And that is the truth. My mind is constantly filled with judgments of my life and what I think it should look like compared to what it really looks like. And then I look at other people and their family and it all just seems so wonderful. Good news is I’m old enough to know better. I’ve listened to friends of mine as well as people that I have counseled and know that everyone has their difficulties.
Since moving to an island two and a half years ago, my husband and I haven’t had many family members come visit during the holidays. They have said that we live too far away. You would think that a beachy vacation for Thanksgiving or Christmas sounds perfect. But to my family it just seems like a lot of trouble. They would rather keep the status quo and have Thanksgiving and Christmas in their own home. They know how to do that. They would rather stay comfortable than go to the trouble to do something different. My sister and her family decided I was crazy or that somehow my husband had managed to bully me into moving to the island. Her punishment for that is never coming to see me and rarely talking to me. That does not motivate me. It actually makes me dig my heels in deeper.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be upset if your holidays aren’t what you would consider to be perfect. Choose what is right for yourself. If there is something that’s not working for you; change it. Don’t do it because of the judgments that are either real or perceived from someone else. Make the decisions that you believe are the best for you and your family. If others don’t understand, that is THEIR issue, not yours. The other thing is you don’t have to make a huge turkey dinner with all the fixings. You don’t even have to cook. You have choices. Sometimes we don’t feel like we do, but I’m here to tell you that you do! And if during this holiday season you are forced to spend time with or communicate with family members that you don’t really get along with, just know it’s okay and there’s a whole lot of people going through the same thing. Take a deep breath, know it doesn’t last forever, and spend every moment that you can trying to find something wonderful in the midst of all the things that seems really difficult. We really are stronger than we think we are. You can do this. I’m with you. At the end of a difficult day, take a moment and write down everything that you can think of to be thankful for on that difficult day. That’ll help you refocus and refresh. Don’t let people that you’re struggling with have power over you to ruin what could be a beautiful holiday season. Find the joy and embrace it.