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Tis the Season for Perfection
Posted: 12/21/2012 | Happiness Comments
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Christmas is nearly here, and many of you are feeling a lot of stress right about now. You may be dealing with visiting family, and those old, familiar dynamics are coming up again. You may be rushing around in search of that last-minute gift, or you’re just starting your shopping. You may be struggling to put up that tree, decorating your house to create that perfect holiday ambiance. You may be baking, or attending parties, or a myriad of other “joyous” Christmas activities.

If we stop for a moment, we can observe the anxiety and frenetic energy around us. Somewhere along the way, we’ve been conditioned to create the “perfect” Christmas. We know what it’s supposed to be: a peaceful holiday, preferably with snow, with laughing children and happy families, beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree, cookies like a work of art, and we know we’re supposed to feel a lot of joy. You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not Christmas without snow.” Can this be achieved in temperate climates? And even if we wake up to a blanket of snow on the rooftop, can we really expect our families to suddenly behave, and our hectic lives to be tranquil? Why do we work so hard, and spend so much money, in an attempt to achieve a completely unrealistic vision of happiness?

Look at the dazzling display of magazines at the grocery store. You’ll see meals that look like they were painted by Renoir, surrounded by a family that clearly never had an argument. Trees adorn the covers that would cost thousands of dollars to recreate, and ads for the hottest gadgets urge us to spend big. And it’s not just Christmas that drives our endless quest for perfection. Pick up a bridal magazine and see what every bride needs for “the happiest day of her life.” That’s a lot of pressure!

None of us can achieve perfection, especially a cultural idea of perfection created by advertising and romantic movies. These expectations of the holidays can bring up great sadness for people. When we believe, however unconsciously, that the holidays should be family time and we aren’t close to our family, it can bring up our fear of not belonging, or abandonment. When we think we have to give and receive the perfect gifts, we feel disappointed when we or others fall short. When we believe that the holidays should be constantly fun or peaceful, we can easily think something is wrong with us when our experience is different. Our unrealistic expectations can bring up all sorts of old memories, childhood programming, and unresolved issues.

Let’s take a little time to reassess, free of your own negative judgments and those of others. What if you could design the perfect holiday for you? What if it could be meaningful and fulfilling, while free of those old and impossible ideas of perfection? What if you could celebrate with family and friends, and take care of yourself at the same time? Imagine your ideal holiday. Maybe it’s about spending real, quality time with your family. Maybe you’d most like to relax and tune out the outside world for a couple of days. It might be a time to reconnect to Spirit, whatever that is for you. It might include people, or time alone. It might include observing religious traditions, or a creative and unconventional ritual of your own.

I’ll explore this more in my next blog, and as we continue the holidays, remember there are many more to come. We can learn to create a holiday experience that truly reflects our values and our desires.

What is your greatest wish for the holidays? Can you see this quest for perfection in yourself? Please share your thoughts. Your comments make a difference for all of us!

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