A Good Enough Christmas

Posted By on December 24, 2010

Give perfectionism a vacation and let your holidays be what they may.

The first time I couldn’t find Pepcid AC on the shelf at Target, I simply dismissed it as bad timing. The second time, I realized that something was up. I asked one of the Target employees straightening up the shelves, “What’s up with the Pepcid AC always being gone?”

The employee shrugged. “I’m not sure. All I know is that since before Thanksgiving, we can’t keep Pepcid AC and Bayer Aspirin on the shelves.”

Ah, yes, Got it. Chalk it up holiday stress.

Say Fa-La-La-La-La to perfection

Too many people try to create picture perfect holidays each year. They want The Perfect Christmas, The Perfect Hanukkah, The Perfect….well, you fill in the blank.

The problem with family gatherings and celebrations is that they’re never perfect. People are messy – both physically and emotionally. The holidays bring out the best and worst of people.

I’ve talked to many clients who spend hours agonizing over the perfect gift, creating the perfect tree, cooking the perfect dinner. My “staff” – my friend Kathy’s teen-age daughters – wrap gifts for me, and they often fret about not getting the paper lined up right or making one end longer than the other. I tell them not to worry since the gifts are for my nieces and nephews, who will not critique the wrapping job. They’re more interested in the present and the act of unwrapping.

Don’t be hatin’ on yourself

A doctor recently told me about a study he read talking about the “good enough” parents versus the “perfect parents.” Children were more resilient with “good enough” parents – the ones who made mistakes and who did what they could with what they had.

Since none of us are perfect, trying to have a perfect holiday leads to disappointment, frustration and even anger.

Lower your expectations of yourself

So relax, my friends. If you burn the fudge (like I did this morning), forget the batteries, and don’t wrap gifts well, you’re making those around you more resilient. Imperfect celebrations make for better stories. Just watch “Home for the Holidays” with Holly Hunter to get perspective.

If perfectionism is an issue, focus on creating positive feelings about Christmas. Make it a nice, peaceful one filled with love and joy. The kids will remember how they felt more so than if the lights were wrapped around each individual branch of the tree.

So I wish you a Merry Christmas! May your celebrations be good enough.



2 Responses to “A Good Enough Christmas”

  1. Learning to let go of expectations can be so freeing, but it’s rarely easy, is it? I’m fretting this year about how much I didn’t get done, though everything that’s happened this fall has been enough to push a Mack truck off course. Will my friends still enjoy cards that arrive on 12/29? I’m pretty sure they will. Just like your nieces & nephews will adore their casually wrapped gifts. Thanks for the nice reminders, Janice!

  2. Ellen Delap says:

    Well said. Resiliency is the most important gift of all. And we all need more practice being imperfect too!