“Perfect” Holidays = Stressful Holidays

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My daughter, Amelia at 2 years old sharing a cookie with her teddy bear.

If you’re anything like me, you have an idea in your head of what the holidays are supposed to look like. In my head, the holidays look like a Pottery Barn Catalog and a Hallmark Channel movie rolled into one. Everything smells like cinnamon and orange peel. And everything sparkles without getting glitter all over the floor… and in my food. My kids are perfect angels, who never fight and don’t ask me a million times who each present is for when I perfectly wrap them early place them under the tree.

The fact is, this is not realistic. I know this. Expecting my holidays to be a Pottery Barn catalog could lead me down a path to a stressful holiday season that is devoid of any fun or joy.

I think it’s normal to see this perfect little picture in my head, but I try really hard to keep myself grounded. When we don’t keep ourselves grounded, and remind ourselves that the Hallmark Channel movies are not real, we could miss out on a lot of happiness!

This holiday season, I encourage you to embrace your messes, mishaps, and if you have a toddler, tantrums. I hope you will keep things simple and easy for yourself. I hope you will encourage an attitude of generosity and fun and lightheartedness this season.

I read a blog post earlier today from Florida Extension about starting a holiday tradition to remember the bloopers of holidays past. The author suggested taking photos of holiday disasters to look at for years to come. Not to wallow in the despair of failure, but to laugh at the different things we messed up, or that simply happened to us. You can read her blog post here.

My family has one story in particular that we have remembered and told now and again over the last 17 years. When I was young, we always had a 3 or 4 ft Christmas tree that my mom set up on our hearth. Because it was sitting 2 feet off the ground, it seemed much taller. I knew that we had a 6 foot tree in the attic, and one year begged my mom to rearrange our living room furniture so that we could set up the taller tree. She obliged and we got out that older tree. After years of being stored in the attic with extreme temperatures, the plastic connectors on the artificial tree got brittle. After the tree was fully decorated and we were sitting around admiring how pretty it looked, the plastic in the middle of the tree cracked and gave up on life. In slow motion the top half of our six foot tree fell off the bottom half, and hung there from the twinkle light strand. Ever resourceful, my parents made a splint using a ruler and some duct tape and we got it upright again. My adolescent self cried when this happened, but my mother laughed like I had never heard her laugh before. She still thinks this is the funniest story ever, and I can also laugh about it now.

While I probably won’t be searching out bloopers to etch into my permanent memory, I will try to keep my expectations for the holiday season realistic.

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