“I need to make the holidays perfect for my family.” girls-with-wreaths

This was my belief for many, many years.

Every gift. Every meal. Every decoration. Every interaction.

Everything had to be perfect.

After all, that was my job, wasn’t it? To ensure an extraordinary holiday season for everyone else.

 

And so, every year, I busted my ass to make sure everything was merry and bright.

I hosted family dinners, even though I hated to cook.

I moved the damn ELF ON A SHELF around the house every few hours so my kids believed he was real.

I bought presents for practically everyone – from my Uncle Victor whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years to the Fed Ex driver who delivered one package to me during the last 12 months.

I threw holiday parties and invited every single person I knew because I didn’t want anyone to feel left out.

I had professional photographers take pictures of my children so I could send out 500 over-priced Christmas cards.

I decorated my home as if it was going to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens.

The list goes on and on.

Yet, somehow, every season, I ended up feeling unfulfilled and exhausted.

Why?

Because I believed I had to do all these “things” to make the holidays perfect.

That’s how my mom did it and that’s how I believed I had to do it.

 

But what exactly did “perfect” even mean?

 

Stressing out for six weeks?

Yelling at my kids all the time?

Never sleeping?

 

It wasn’t until several years ago, after my divorce, when my two daughters and I moved into a small condominium together, that I realized what the “perfect holiday” meant.

 

It didn’t mean glittering lights and Christmas cards.

It didn’t mean photographers and perfect outfits for church.

It didn’t mean gourmet meals and presents and a full social calendar.

And, it certainly didn’t mean making everyone around me miserable because I was so stressed.

 

Instead, it meant doing none of that.

 

It meant making my list and crossing off everything that didn’t create joy.

 

It meant laughter. (Like the time my girls and I went to get a tree alone for the first time. The whole process of cutting it down, getting it to stay on the top of the car, transporting it into our small condo and having to tie it to the stairs because we couldn’t get it into the stand, generated hours and hours of pure, raw laughter, not to mention one of our most unforgettable memories.)

It meant making cookies and eating all of them instead of taking them to the neighbors.

It meant cold nights in our comfys by the fire watching movies and ordering pizza.

It meant pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving Day and carry-out Chinese food for Christmas dinner.

 

It meant doing what I loved and not what I thought I should be doing.

 

It meant slowing down and doing less.

 

It meant creating my own – perfect – holiday.

 

Do the holidays stress you out?

Maybe it’s time for you to step back and think about what you can do to create a more peaceful holiday season.

Author: Lisa Panos