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As a child growing up, I saw my aunts and grandmothers always busy on the holidays bustling around making sure everyone was comfortable. From far before sun up to late after sun down they would be cooking, cleaning, serving and doing it all with a smile.
Every year we would have a multi-course meal that was always delicious. It graced the table with perfect decorations surrounding the table and house. And every year, as I got older, I felt the rising pressure of learning to meet these demands.
When I married, and “became an adult”, I began asking to help them. My grandmother now in her 80s, and my aunts in their 40s and 50s, I knew they could use the help, and knew the Bible wanted the younger women to learn from the older; but they continued to tell me they could do it themselves. And to this day they still do.
Now, with my own family, I at first, found myself wanting to meet the same standards of my relatives. Making a multi course meal, with perfect decorations, smiles and serving those I loved. But before one holiday season was even over, I knew it wasn’t for me. While I loved my family, I wanted to show them in a different way.
Because while the holidays were always full of smiles, great, staged photos, and amazing food; there was always a feeling of emptiness and loneliness that I could not fill.
Maybe this is how you feel around the holidays, or maybe you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and underappreciated. Either way, here are a few tips to help you regain joy during the holiday season.
Let go of expectations
When I held the expectations of my relatives and all they had done every year, I started to feel so much lighter and less weight on my shoulders. While we still had turkey for Christmas with mashed potatoes and all the fixings, we instead had multiple turkey breasts for our small family, and everyone chipped in (even the boys) which then made meal prep about an hour, instead of an all day affair.
No one was unhappy or angry that there wasn’t a huge meal and perfect decorations. They seemed more happy that we had spent time together, whether it was cooking together, making homemade decorations together, or just spending time.
My family was very much about wearing nice clothes for each holiday. This is the first thing I got rid of in my own family. We wear our comfy pajamas all day long and there is no schedule of events. We eat when we’re hungry, and we let the day flow as it needs.
Depending on your family’s needs this may help you. I know for myself, adopting a child with special needs, he will have different needs during the holidays than other children or family members do, and that’s okay. He deserves to enjoy the holidays too, even if they’re not the same as Hallmark standards are.
Remember the Reason
Instead of worrying over dollar amounts, gifts, and Black Friday deals, remember the real reason for the season. One thing we do make sure to do each Christmas evening is to read the Christmas story out of the Bible; and on Christmas morning we watch The Chosen’s Christmas episode. It helps us focus on what’s most important about Christmas, and not get upset when we didn’t get the new iPhone, or whatever was on our Christmas lists.
Spend time with family, and focus on being grateful for a day off to spend with them and make memories. Remember those who don’t get to come home for the holidays, or who have to work through them and cannot be with their family.
The holidays don’t have to be Pinterest perfect to create memories that will last a lifetime. Having everything in perfect order does not create joy or happiness. Having a holiday that is filled with love, does. Don’t seek out comparison this season, but find joy in His love, and share it with your family. No one is judging you for your holiday performance, they’re just hoping you will join in wholeheartedly.