The Holiday Myth

Recently I had a woman in my office anxiously talking about the holiday season.  What if her friends notice she isn’t giving gifts this year, and guess that she is in financial trouble?  What if her mother-in-law realizes her pie crust is store bought?  What if her holiday party is a flop because her house isn’t clean enough? 

Of course she is not alone in her list of worries.  No matter how immune we feel, each of us is susceptible to buying into the myth of the ideal holiday experience.  Some are easier to face, like explaining to your mother-in-law that you would rather spend time with your family than spend it making pie crusts.  Others are more complicated.  Maybe this is your first holiday season without a loved one who died this past year and whether you realized it or not, you believed that you would always be with them.        

How do we face these expectations and create a memorable holiday experience?  We can remind ourselves that the ideal holiday experience really and truly is a myth.  There is no perfect or best way to celebrate.  Real holidays are full of delicious cookies and burnt rolls, joyful homecomings and longings for a home, close and strained relationships, laughter at an ugly sweater and tears over a heartfelt gift.

So when we find ourselves striving for that Norman-Rockwell-painting-Martha-Stewart holiday let’s pause, take a deep breath, and remember a real holiday is always more memorable than the ideal.  After all it’s not the polished silver or the perfect gift we remember; it’s the look on your great aunt’s face when she realizes your youngest daughter just uttered a curse word in front of the whole family.  Here’s to each of us reveling in our own authentic holiday experience this year.