By Sharon Killian
Well, it is that time of year again. The thought of decorating the Christmas tree, shopping, wrapping, and cooking is hovering in the back of your mind. But, you may not feel overjoyed at the idea of participating in these festive traditions. Believe it or not, that feeling is a normal feeling to experience, especially at Christmas.
The world around us plays a cruel joke on society from the commercials filled with the perfectly set Christmas dinner tables to the plethora of ads with sparkling “must buy” gift ideas, the message is the same: At least for one month of the year or even one day of the year, life is supposed to be perfect.
Decorations, food, gifts, spending money do not bring perfection to life, no matter what the occasion. Chasing perfection is like searching for the Holy Grail. Perfection is a never- ending illusion cloaked in the sadness of disillusionment, disappointment, sadness, and frustration.
“So, what is the solution?” you are probably wondering. First, accept that Christmas, if seen as a religious holiday or just a day of celebration, filled with imperfection. After all, the story of Christmas is filled with events that did not go quite as planned-being born in a manger was probably not Joseph and Mary’s idea of a maternity wing. Joseph had to whisk his family off to reside in Egypt for two years to avoid King Herod’s wrath. So, get it over with-pull out your mirror and tell yourself “it is OK for Christmas not to be perfect and for my family not to resemble that of a Christmas holiday show.” When you are done, you will no longer expect your outfits to match the upholstery on your furniture as is portrayed on most family sing along shows at Christmas.
Second, if you cannot afford to give gifts, write a heartfelt note to those you love. I guarantee you they will remember that gift for many Christmas’ to come as opposed to another set of battery-operated salt and pepper grinders.
Shed the shame of not being able to purchase gifts. Most people face tremendous debt after the Holidays and spend January-March paying it off and wondering what they spent their money on!
Third, it is OK to be alone on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. Go to your local place of worship. Or, plan to rent movies and fix your favorite meal, or indulge in a treat you rarely allow yourself. In other words, create your own rituals and celebrations that you can carry on for years whether you are alone or not!
Either way, January 2, 2018 will arrive. The sooner we all accept that tranquility has nothing to do with perfection and that the events of the first Christmas were imperfect, we will all have the true gift of Christmas–Peace on Earth.
Sharon Killian, LCSW, is the director of clinical services for RACSB.