By Hilary Hoye, MSW, LSW
‘Tis the most wonderful time of the year! As moms, the holiday season can be magical as we live vicariously through the joy experienced by our children.
Still the pressure to have a perfectly curated social media worthy holiday season can be overwhelming and unrealistic. In the age where Instagram inundates us with highlight reels of picture-perfect family celebrations and idealized holiday outings of friends, family and influencers alike, it can feel intimidating for those of us who feel a little bit less than perfect. In reality, holidays, while joyous and magical, can also be chaotic and messy.
After all, holiday gatherings are a microcosm of the true essence of our families. It is a time when our familial strengths and fragilities are often at the forefront of the occasions we are celebrating.
Turkeys get burnt. Dinner is late to the table. Kids throw tantrums. Sibling rivalry bubbles up (at all ages!) as old wounds are opened. New rifts emerge. These less than perfect moments are rarely highlighted on social media–even though they are likely happening at most of our friends’ and families’ gatherings.
It is important to ground ourselves in the understanding that holidays do not need to be perfectly curated or captured in order to be worthy of memory making.
Here’s a quick recipe to stay grounded this holiday experience
Recipe: Real, loving & nourishing holiday
Makes: 1 holiday experience at a time
Prep time: 1-30 minutes
Total time: 1 holiday season
- A mixing bowl for quiet (bed, shower, couch, car, walk outside)
- A rolling pin for journaling (paper, notes in your phone, tablet, computer)
- 1/4 teaspoon of fun (book, coffee with friend, fun show, walking in snow)
- 1-2 cups of communication (voice, text, email, handwritten note)
- 1 pinch of grace (for yourself and others)
Pre-heat the oven: Remember that no one is perfect. That means you are not perfect. The people in your family are not perfect. No one else’s families are perfect. We are all humans. No human is perfect.
Roll the dough. Use a rolling pin to smooth out your thoughts and emotions. Find a quiet place and journal. You don’t need to take long, but taking a moment to reflect and think — what are your hopes, fears, dreams, memories, –whatever comes to mind will help smooth the dough for your experience. Even better: write or doodle in a journal. If that’s not possible, use notes on your phone, computer, draw. Putting your thoughts to paper in some way activates both sides of your brain.
Add in some fun for yourself. Try to take time for yourself every day to do something that makes you feel good. You need to recharge in order to be your best and most fulfilled self this holiday season so turn your phone on “do not disturb” and read a book or catch up on a show, grab coffee with a friend, or throw on your winter boots and go out for a walk.
Kneed in your communication. However you communicate, talking, texting, emailing: remember 2 communication tools. It is okay to say no and set boundaries. It is okay to ask for help.
This season is abundant with parties, dinners, and holiday outings. We all want to make the most of the holiday season and are at risk of overbooking ourselves and our families which can lead to feeling exhausted and burnt out. Prioritize your family’s schedule and say no if you need some time off. Your friends and family will understand as they are likely faced with the same packed holiday schedules.
Ask for help! You don’t have to do it all. Holidays are family shared and enjoyed therefore everyone can participate in the planning, upkeep, and clean up, even your kids. Even little kids can help set the table or make decorations for the family party and older kids can help with wrapping presents and running nearby errands. The more the merrier when helping around the holidays.
Leave out any ingredients that may spoil the recipe.Consider a digital detox! It is important to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to social media, especially if it is contributing to feelings of anxiety and negative self-worth due to social comparison. Some time off from social media will allow you to truly stay present with your friends and family this season. Don’t miss out on enjoying the actual memories that you are trying to capture for social media!
Check the oven. Remember no one is perfect, including you, your family and everyone else’s.
Sprinkle a pinch of grace for yourself and others. Embrace the messy moments! Memories are like creating a masterpiece. Sometimes things get a little chaotic and messy, but the end result is breathtaking. Lean into the silliness and laughter this season. And remember it is okay if your holiday is imperfectly perfect because it works for you and your family!
Take your recipe out of the oven! Turn the oven off, but never forget what created the recipe: imperfection.
Even if you follow this recipe precisely, your holidays will still not be perfect. Focus on the good in your life. You’re alive. You have the ability to embrace your imperfection and your imperfect holiday. If you can do that, no one can take anything away from you.