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Forget About Your Perfect Tree

If you're on my email list, you might remember that last week, I shared my intention to prioritize quality time over the holidays. After sending out my thoughts this week on another intention, I received some beautiful notes back and was encouraged to share this more widely. So, I've put my thoughts into this blog post.

As I continue to navigate the holiday season, I can’t help thinking about the pressure we feel when it comes to creating a “perfect” holiday experience.

Of course, social media, magazines, and holiday movies all contribute to this pressure, but I also think a major contributor (at least for me) is our own (often unrealistic) expectations for ourselves. This can lead to overwhelm, anxiety, frustration, and maybe even resentment towards certain tasks or obligations. That pressure impacts our ability to fully enjoy the season.

I also want to acknowledge that the holiday season isn’t always a positive experience for everyone. Grief in any form (whether a loss of a loved one, an ending to a romantic relationship, a loss of a friendship, or even a big life change) can add an additional layer of pressure. And while I am not a parent, I think this would be especially true if you’re responsible for helping to create a magical, joyful experience for family members.

So, my second intention for the holiday season is to Give Myself (and others!) Grace.

Giving Grace

To me, the concept of giving yourself grace means to give yourself permission to be human: it serves as a reminder that no one is perfect, and to forgive yourself for past mistakes. It’s an opportunity to let go of self-criticism, judgement, guilt and/or shame.

When I look at this concept through the lens of the holiday season, giving yourself grace might look like:

  • Sitting with and honoring all the emotions that you experience over the holiday season, and giving yourself permission (and the space) to feel whatever you are feeling

  • Remembering that perfection is unattainable and that no one is expecting it (and if they are, they are not your people)

  • Scaling back or asking for more help when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your To Do List

  • Reducing (or stopping completely, ideally) your self-criticism and to be okay with “good enough”

  • Reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can *in this moment*, and that your best looks different from day to day

  • Reminding yourself that usually, the same is true for everyone else around us, and to offer grace to the people we come across throughout our days – even the strangers that frustrate us

As I write out this list, I am reminding of the quote by Maya Angelou that says,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

My friends, you don’t need to have the perfect tree, or perfectly decorated cookies; your presents don’t all need to be coordinated or perfectly wrapped. Take that energy and put it towards truly experiencing the season – making memories with family and friends, enjoying company, and being generous with your compliments and your laughter. Because I can guarantee you that most people won’t remember what your tree looked like or whether your corners were perfect on the present you gave them. They will, however, remember how they felt when they were with you.

And that, in my opinion, is the most important part of the holiday season.

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