Embracing an imperfect holiday

The hol­i­day sea­son stirs up a lot of emo­tion for everyone.

Reading an art­icle the oth­er day about the pres­sures of con­form­ity over this next few weeks, I real­ized wheth­er you are cel­eb­rat­ing Christmas, Kwansaa, Hanukkah, or noth­ing at all oth­er than per­haps hav­ing a few days off of work, many people plan their events around the idea of the “best” or “per­fect” holiday.toronto-ice-storm-1-ferit-onurlu-cabbagetown

The real­ity is that we are far from per­fect, and of course, this time of year is fraught with “imper­fec­tion”, if we choose to look at it that way. Many of us don’t cel­eb­rate in the same ways, so how can we live up to these expect­a­tions? Why should we?

Let’s review some “imper­fec­tions” in the next week you may encounter:

  • Some of you were born on December 25 or January 1st, and from your point of view I would ima­gine there is a lot of frus­tra­tion with not get­ting all of the atten­tion you deserve because every­one is obsessed with some­thing oth­er than you :)
  • Some of you struggle with sug­ar addic­tion or have restrict­ive diets. The moun­tains of cook­ies, chocol­ate, and candy every­where are a daily remind­er of all of the things you can­’t eat, or should­n’t, and there can be an intern­al battle until they are all gone in the new year. Perhaps you don’t even like sweets! You might be con­stantly say­ing no to the latest batch of things someone has made espe­cially for you.
  • Some of you are afraid to fly, and have to fly to see the people you love. Overcoming fear to get some­thing you need. Or, your flight was can­celled due to weath­er, so now you need to drive, and you don’t like winter driving.
  • Some of you have lost fam­ily mem­bers over the year, or even recently, and the changes to your fam­il­ies and yourselves with griev­ing may have com­pletely changed your hol­i­day. Trying to feel “happy” just may not be real­ist­ic, because you are feel­ing sad/​angry/​lonely/​isolated.
  • Some of you still don’t have power, and your plans have changed rad­ic­ally with the ice storm. You may be see­ing the gen­er­os­ity of oth­ers, or lack there­of. Not hav­ing power can be a pretty hum­bling and frus­trat­ing experience.

So to review, none of these scen­ari­os really set up any of us for per­fec­tion. They are actu­ally the real­it­ies of life. Not neces­sar­ily good, but not neces­sar­ily bad either. They are what they are.

They do how­ever set us up to under­stand our own human­ity, and the fact that all of us will have a hol­i­day exper­i­ence that is unique, and in its own way, very beautiful.

Try includ­ing self-com­pas­sion this hol­i­day as part of your plan. Perhaps a little say­ing like this:

I under­stand the hol­i­days can be both pos­it­ive and neg­at­ive, bring­ing gifts and challenges.

I know that oth­er people, my own fam­ily and friends, acquaint­ances and even people I don’t know are prob­ably feel­ing the same way. I’m not alone in my feelings.

I give myself per­mis­sion to get some rest, take some time for myself, and to be kind to myself when I am feel­ing happy, sad, scared, lonely, or not myself. I also give oth­ers the same under­stand­ing as much as I can.

May I be kind to myself this holiday.

Warm thoughts to you all for any hol­i­day that comes your way.

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