It’s hard to believe that I will be celebrating my 60th Christmas season. I think back on all the Christmas celebrations of years gone by. I remember my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who are now all gone. And as much as it’s a bittersweet memory of all those seasons, the sweet outweighs the sadness.
Holidays for many of us have changed from year to year. Traditions change, circumstances change, but yet the anxiety of wanting to recreate the holidays of our youth remains. Most of us want it to be as it was, never acknowledging the impossibility of that happening.
Family dynamics often add to the anxiety. In our current social culture, we or many family members may reside at a distance to our childhood “home base”. Also, within family dynamics, there may be difficulties and challenges with relationships due to disagreements and divorce and blended families. Add into that the obstacles when the health of a matriarch or patriarch prevents celebrating as in the past.
But if one really thinks about it, all these same issues existed in the past, and will in the future. We may not have been aware of why a certain aunt or uncle did not attend a holiday dinner or party, or why conversations were hushed when the absence of certain people were discussed, but it does not dispel the fact that a “perfect holiday” is more illusionary than reality. It all comes down to our perceptions and acceptance.
A “perfect holiday” is possible if you keep a few things in mind.
- Celebrate the day or season as it is versus how you wish it could once more be.
- Evaluate your traditions and determine which ones are the most important to keep and perpetuate versus trying to recreate those that are no longer possible or practical
- To quote lyrics from a song, regarding all those with whom you will celebrate, “ if you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you are with”
- Start your own tradition that will have meaning and value to your children and grandchildren, but let them know it’s okay to change it any time in the future when it no longer works for them
- Cook, bake, decorate as YOU wish to do or can do, but allow yourself time to rest and enjoy the celebration, even if you forgo a recipe or two, or have less elaborate decorations on display
- Surrender some control and let others help if they offer, and don’t judge the final outcome of the contribution
- Learn to laugh at any mishaps or last minute change of plans
- Always remember that it is the love shared and the memories made that make for a “perfect holiday”
As I celebrate this 60th holiday season, I will remember all of the ones I have been blessed to celebrate, with all the ones I have loved, with all of the “perceived” perfection and all the mishaps and foibles. I will accept this year’s celebration for what it is versus how I wish I would like it to be. And I will be grateful to those that make this year another memory that warms my heart and puts a smile in my soul when years from now I reflect on “how it used to be”.
Wishing you health, a joy filled and “perfect” holiday season, and living your best life.