The holidays are such a bittersweet experience. There’s such expectation in the air. Sometimes, it’s quite magical. A time when miracles could happen and wrongs righted with the perfect moment.
It’s a time when we are all supposed to get along and enjoy each other’s company. There’s supposed to be just enough snow to be beautiful but not enough to cause traffic chaos or frostbitten toes. Children are supposed to be wide eyed and appreciative of the gifts they’ve received. Then, during the feast everyone is supposed to cheerfully converse about how much they love each other and how beautiful the table is decorated.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. The holidays come with such a high expectation that no one’s real life can live up to such Hollywood moments. For many, the weeks leading up to the holidays are extremely stressful. All of the commercials show the happy reactions of loved ones as they receive the perfect gift and joyfully share the holiday feast together.
But what if you are spending the holiday season alone? What if your heart is missing loved ones who for whatever reason can’t be with you during the holiday season? What if an illness or life crisis is draining all your holiday spirit? What if your loved ones simply don’t act or react as you’d hoped.
I think that’s when expectations become a big problem. We use these ridiculous Hollywoodisms that are meant only to sell products as our measuring sticks about how our lives should look. Then, we proceed to use these measures to beat ourselves up because we don’t quite rate.
As you all know, I have very little tolerance for fakeness. I truly believe that what we have right now in this instant is perfect for this moment in time. Even when things are bad (extremely so sometimes), such moments provide prospective on what we truly want our life and the things we need to do to heal so that we can be happy and content. I believe this is both our right and our unique destiny.
Yes, I’d love the perfect holiday where my grandchildren all joyfully opened presents and afterwards we as an extended (extended-extended) family all sat at the same table enjoying each other’s company. For a variety of reasons, that isn’t going to happen. As I get older, it actually seems like the holidays tend to collect just as many heart losses as heart gains.
Ultimately, I think that holidays are great for bringing together people. Connecting with loved ones is important. It’s a gift to be cherished.
With that said, the holidays are a set of moments. Ultimately, they do not define who we are. They can add flavor to our lives but they are not our lives. Our holiday experiences do not describe our value as a human being nor do they predict our future.
Only we can determine our value. Only we can decide what we want out of life. No particular set of moments can deny us those things. Ultimately, each of us has the right to choose our own measuring stick and to decide how we want to live our life. Then, do what is necessary to make those intentions reality.