This past week, a friend approached me to ask, "Lynne, are you ready for Christmas?" Through our ensuing discussion, she recited a dizzying list of the things that she had yet to get done, the fussy relatives that she felt she needed to please, and the presents that she had yet to purchase, with all the seriousness and emphasis on perfection that I would expect from a scientist following research protocol for clinical trials. There, I thought to myself that she could have substituted the word "Christmas" for "space shuttle launch" or "splitting atoms" and we would have had an almost identical conversation with the same sense of gravity. I have a hazy recollection that the holiday season was supposed to be fun. Where did that go?
I do believe that my granny, Betty, got it right. I remember one Christmas where she consoled my mother when Mom's green bean casserole dish was declared a burnt offering. Granny Betty told Mom that, "for the most part, if every dish at the holiday table looks gorgeous, you should check the trash can." Seriously. Perfect doesn't happen too often for us humans, and if you're relying on attaining perfection as a condition of your happiness, are you going to be happy that often? Do you even have any control over whether someone else feels they received the perfect gift or had the perfect holiday experience? Does the pursuit of perfect outcomes even sound that fun? I know that my friend was sporting an exquisitely furrowed brow as she talked about ensuring that the relatives and everyone else had the perfect Christmas. Might she have even dared to look happy if her focus was on enjoying her process of preparation for the holiday?
I give you permission to explore your happiness and what makes you feel whole during the process of preparing for the holidays rather than banking your happiness upon perfect outcomes that may very well be out of your control. I give you permission to pare down your "To Do List" in favor of being able to greet the season with a joyful spirit rather than the feeling of being harried and run down by a truck. As far as I am aware, a gift that maybe misses the mark but is given with a happy spirit will not likely incur the dire consequences that a NASA launch might with similar levels of imperfection. Try not too confuse them by responding with equal levels of tension. The revolution is the happy face.