I love the holidays: special foods, special friends, special projects. I love making the magic happen for my family, but I have a love-hate relationship with all the expectations. On the one hand, the anticipation of the holidays is fun. We dream, and plan, and hope- and I love it. My kids love it.
Anticipation is a lovely part of our tradition, however, the other side of that is expectation. Expectations can leave me sprinting towards perfection, and to be honest, it's not the expectations of my kids that cause me stress.
This Year, I Let My Family Know We Will Not Be Having a Perfect Holiday
My perfectionist tendencies aren't driven by the kids so much as the adults. All of us adults seem to have expectations- myself, my husband, the grandparents, and the aunts and uncles. Everybody has thoughts and hopes about how the holiday will play out, and if I am not careful, I take on far too much responsibility for their wishes. If I start trying to meet all those expectations, I'm in for a world of stress.
When You Try to Please Everyone, You Please No One
What I want is connection, not perfection! So this year, I let my family know we will NOT be having a perfect holiday.
There will be things left undone.
There will be ideas that don’t come to fruition.
There will be moments in which we achieve neither connection nor perfection.
There will be people who will be frustrated at not having their expectations met.
And that’s OK! In fact, acknowledging it up font feels rather freeing. I want to plan for it, and accept it as part of our holiday rather than see it as a hindrance, focusing on and enjoying what is rather than what was expected.
I’ve spoken with the other adults who will be participating in our holiday festivities and told them I don’t want or expect a perfect holiday. I know that, even though everyone's expectations are never fully fulfilled, we can (and do) have lovely holidays. I want to aim for a good enough holiday and enjoy ourselves.
Permission for Flexibility and Taking Breaks
It’s so easy to get caught up in striving towards a perfect holiday; one of the ways I’m letting go of that is by changing the way we talk about our holiday plans. I am emphasizing flexibility with phrases like:
- “Let’s play it by ear”
- “One possibility is…”
- “The tentative plan is…”
- “Let’s leave room for flexibility”.
I am also talking with everyone (kids and adults a like) about permission to take a break from all the holiday busyness. It can be a lot, and there is nothing wrong with needing a break, but sometimes it can be difficult to communicate that need. So we came up with a code, “I just don’t want my cookies to burn” as a fun, lighthearted way to let people know when they, or someone else, is in need of a break.
Our company doesn’t arrive for another week, but we are setting the stage now for permission not to meet every expectation and to focus on connection over perfection.
Wishing you joy and happiness in a less stressful, good enough holiday!