The annual holiday period has once again rolled around-it seems to take a shorter period of time each year. This week we will all go into high gear for the next four weeks. Thanksgiving begins a whirlwind of decorating, shopping, family visits, parties, and seemingly endless round of things to do. To complicate this, many are facing the long to do list alone. For many the holidays are a time to just keep your head down and survive. How in the world can we reclaim the joy this time of the year should hold?
1. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS- It does not all have to be perfect. Perfection is an elusive shifting target and often dependent upon how the world tells us the holidays should appear. The table does not have to be a feast fit for royalty; the decorations do not have to come from the latest edition of "House Beautiful"; your outfit does not have to be couture; and the children --well they are children. Perfect gifts are a moving target; funds are limited; and no one can do it all. Remind yourself what you can get done is plenty; we all have cooking mishaps; there are only 24 hours in a day; and life will go on tomorrow with no one but you agonizing over what went wrong yesterday.
2. BE FLEXIBLE- Traditions are wonderful, but be willing to bend and change your traditions if necessary. With grandchildren, the traditional way I celebrated holidays completely changed. It was necessary to come up with a new plan with the parents of young children in mind. Your willingness to bend to accommodate the busy lives of young parents is a precious gift of flexibility. It is important to celebrate, but when and how you celebrate can be altered. Holidays once again changed after the end of my marriage. Sharing time with no concrete expectations from your children and grands is a great gift to them. The holidays are a season, not a day---plan accordingly. It is not as important to celebrate on a particular day as it is to be together at some point during the season.
3. ROLL WITH IT- One Thanksgiving one of the grands was up in the middle of the night, Thanksgiving Eve, with the stomach bug. How can I delicately tell you about the clean up that followed? Bless Him---it was everywhere. After we finally got back to bed we slept in to almost 6:00 AM. I am sleep walking through the morning and worrying about how in the world in my tight quarters we are going to keep the other three healthy. We are all sleep deprived and cranky. Somehow I still get the dinner on the table (poor little fellow has crackers and sprite) and make the annual round of the table stating what we are thankful for. At the moment, I was exasperated and exhausted, but it is a memory we laugh over every year. The cake falls, you forget to put the rolls on the table, company drops in unexpectedly, you over did the jalapenos in the casserole, you forgot some of the gifts hidden in the closet, the cat climbed the Christmas tree in the middle of the night and knocked it over---(all actual events from my life)--it is not the end of the world~Roll With It. As you can tell, this is what memories are made from and I still laugh about them.
4. REMEMBER WHAT MATTERS- Being together and spending time playing, visiting, and enjoying each other is what is most important. If you give me the choice of having a simple dinner while enjoying your good company and in attending a lavish Christmas gala, the one on one time with you wins every time. Being with the children, family members, and friends and enjoying quality time in any activity are our keeper memories. After all these years, the holidays that stand out the most are those spent in the company of those I love in close communion. God desires us to be in relationships, but those relationships need to be nurtured. Slow down and spend time together, with no expectations in the good company of those you love.
No where in The Word do we find a list for how we should be celebrating. These are all man made expectations that have grown over the years to the point of being exhaustive. Betty Crocker had big time cooking fails before getting that book published, Emily Post occasionally had a bad day and forgot her manners, Lisa Hilderbrand does not have time to decorate her own home for keeping the paying customers happy, and Coco Chanel was guilty of wearing a hideous outfit for Christmas Dinner at time or two. We are ALL human and none of us are perfect--so DO NOT expect life to be perfect.