Why I’m aiming for a good enough holiday…
By Lorien Van Ness
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 expectation. 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 while my kids have expectations it really isn’t theirs that drive me and my perfectionist tendencies- it’s mine, and my husbands, and the grandparents, and the aunts and uncles. Everybody has expectations about how the holiday will play out, and if I am not careful, meeting all those expectations can become the goal.
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 whose disappointment at not having their expectations met, will be noticeable.
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.
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 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 good enough holiday!