Of course, I’m talking about the holidays! Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner: so let the craziness begin. Why is it that we can be perfectly sane all year long, but throw in a few days of being with family and all hope of sanity is gone? What is it about family that can make full grown adults like us act like elementary school playground adversaries?
And the food! If someone doesn’t make the gourmet potatoes or grandma’s green bean casserole, World War Three will break out! In some families, it can come down to who cooks what, and how it is prepared; something like this will make or break the day!
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and others this time of year to live up to what is really a dream; the “perfect holiday”. If I think back to my youth, there are a few key things that I remember surrounding the holidays. Being with family, a fire burning in the fireplace, my cousins and I running around the house as all the dads gathered in the living room. Playing games, waiting restlessly for midnight to come, and the smells of food coming from the kitchen as the moms kept a seemingly endless stream of food coming, these all played a part in those special days every year. We ate the same food every Christmas at midnight, then we opened presents. Throw in the fact that my birthday is Christmas Eve and you get a picture of what I expected from Christmas. But what I have come to realize is my memories of Christmas are a composite of over twenty years of Christmases smashed into a memory of perfection. I am sure some years were not as good as others; I know I got some socks and probably even some underwear as gifts, but those aren’t the ones I remember. I remember the ones that were exactly what I wanted.
You can’t tell me some year’s food didn’t burn or that things didn’t go wrong. I know one year several cousins were injured in a car accident on the way to the celebration. I know some years my uncles were fighting with each other. The point is that those aren’t the things I remember. I have taken the best of each year and merged different elements into fond Christmas and Thanksgiving memories.
So my question is, do we really have to put so much pressure on ourselves to make Thanksgiving or Christmas perfect? Why not just shoot for a good Christmas and Thanksgiving? Then, if something goes wrong, it won’t freak us out so much. We can work on not being so uptight and remember that our family won’t remember every single moment of the holiday, just those moments that make a difference in the long run.