This year I’m not even going to try to have a perfect Christmas! I have learned that the secret to having a really happy Holiday is to allow it to be as imperfect as possible. It’s just like meditation: If you try to control your thoughts and do the “perfect” meditation, it’ll never work. But if you sit back, relax, and observe the chaos of your mind, you’re able to detach. Letting go of the attachment to how your Christmas should be this year is a massive relief. The key is to throw in the towel and welcome utter IMPERFECTION into your life.
The pressure on families to have a “Happy Holiday” where everyone sits around enjoying their presents and turkey, offering Goodwill to all, is awful. This is especially true because emotions tend to run high at this time of year. And not all these emotions are pleasant. Moreover, the pressure to have a really Happy Holiday on the millions of people who are suffering this Season, is even worse.
Ironically, the Christmas Story, which many of us are celebrating, is about utter imperfection. A young pregnant girl, who gave birth to her child, on a cold winter’s night in an animal’s manger. It was cold, dirty, unsanitary, not how this young couple had planned it to be (or so the story goes). Nothing sparkly and perfect table setting about the Christmas story. It’s rather about humility, making do, letting go, and love.
Many of you have written to me recently about your struggles. One lady is going through the devastating loss of the unexpected death of her son, another girl is going through chemo, and many have lost their jobs. This is life … it can really hurt sometimes. The only thing that makes that hurt worse, is the pressure and expectation that you should feel happy, or somehow “get over it”.
Allowing myself and my Holiday to be imperfect is such a relief on every level. I have let go of every single “should”, and as a result I feel free. My Christmas tree is a weird shape, and bizarrely small this year (much to the amusement of my family). We don’t have Christmas lights in our yard because my husband had shoulder surgery and can’t get them down from the attic (and I’m not getting into untangling lights!). My extended family can’t come because they all live so far away. I have no idea what I am going to cook. I’m not sure the gifts I’ve ordered online will be here on time because Amazon keeps changing the delivery dates. And the list goes on…..
But, I am blessed enough to be living in a country that is relatively peaceful and free. My family are healthy. I am healthy. I am grateful – so very grateful. Instead of stressing over what I need to do to make Christmas perfect, I sat down this morning to write a long gratitude list, and then turned my mind to the gifts I want to get for the family that we have “adopted” this year. This is the one tradition that we stick to every year.
So, my friends, some tips on how to enjoy an imperfect Christmas!
- Write a gratitude list every morning of this week.
- Write down every niggle or resentment that you have, and have a good look at what your part is. This is the time of year when families get together, and tempers rise. Even if your part is that you always engage (or take the bait), be responsible for that.
- Mind your own business: With families around, it’s tempting to micro-manage, fix, or tell people how we think they should be. I try to mind my own business, and remind myself that everyone has their own God, and their own journey… far be it for me to try to change anyone but myself.
- Enjoy the imperfections: Whatever you perceive to be “imperfect” might actually be perfect. Look at the gift in everything. And realize that “perfection” is simply an image that we have been sold. And those “perfect” images are even more prevalent now because of social media. But they’re not real. The only thing that’s real is NOW, with all it’s gorgeous imperfections.
- Take a bit of time to get quiet every morning. Take your tea or coffee, go sit near a window and look out. Allow your mind to slow down. Take some deep breathes. Do your work (gratitude list, journal, meditation), whatever… do the work it takes to get you to the place where you can be your best, most loving self. This is all that really matters, and is the true message of Christmas.
Whatever your religion, Faith, or Spiritual philosophy, this is a wonderful time of year for me to express my love and gratitude to those around me. It’s also the perfect time of year for me to dig deep and see what I can do for someone who is suffering.