Holiday guilt: Is it on your list?

I work and volunteer. I’m a daughter, wife, and mom. Every year around mid-November, I plan the perfect holiday everything, knowing most of it won’t happen. The perfect tree. The dozen different kinds of homemade holiday cookies. Gifts that everyone I love, will love. Volunteer projects that will do good and feel good. Watching all those Christmas movies I have loved over the years, when they’re on, with my family in front of a fire, all of us in matching holiday sweaters. Hosting parties for varied groups of friends they’ll have a great time at, and remember fondly. Getting and using reasonably priced tickets to run home to see my mom and siblings, without creating havoc in my life 1000-plus miles away.

Yes, it’s the ohmygosh it’s the holiday season, the time of impossible expectations.

It never all happens but hope springs eternal, and I like to believe the most important things get done. Regardless, this year I refuse to feel guilty, really I do, if I don’t live up to my expectations (let alone anyone else’s).  I have read and been liberated by, “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” If you only recognize this as a movie title, I refer to the actual book, written by Allison Pearson. While it’s not totally on point, its main point is, you can’t do it all, fabulously well, and that’s OK.

I believe in the religious meaning of the season. A part of me puts up a valiant fight against the overwhelming forces of commercialism but it’s destined to be a losing battle because let’s be honest, I love the tree, the ornaments, the decorations, shopping, and the opportunities to make others happy and sometimes, to give those gifts that make a real difference – the ones you don’t find in a store.

Plus, I loved my mom’s cookies, which she was able to make with four kids at home, even when she had a job outside the home.

That said I do and will make time this year for at least one contemplative, appreciative thought about the meaning of Christmas for every 24 hours of planning, shopping, wrapping, and celebrating.  And I will not feel guilty because when it comes to Christmas, I have adopted this position: If you have the best intentions, and do the best you can do, with love in your heart, it counts as a success. Even if your cookies come from a store. Even if you can’t avoid that annual argument. (“The tree’s not straight!” “Yes it is!” “No it isn’t!”) Even if no one else wears the reindeer sweater or wants to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” but you.

Because it is a wonderful life and we all have blessings to count.

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