A Few Thoughts for When Your Holidays Aren’t Flawlessly Jolly


It’s that time of year again. There are lights and carols and gifts and gatherings. The holiday season can bring with it lots of love, generosity, and joy. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t also stress, grief, tension, and loneliness.

Setting the standard at magical is a lot of pressure, isn’t it? The past couple years I’ve shared some things that are helping me prepare for the holidays instead of dreading them. They are reminders that I need again this year. I’ve collected them all in one place here for you.

The holidays can come with so many expectations. When our experience doesn’t measure up, it’s tempting to force things to be better…to force ourselves to be better. It’s actually taken a weight off my shoulders to realize that refusing to recognize things for what they are doesn’t change them . (Watch the related video.)

What if we let this holiday season be imperfectly lovely? What if we acknowledged that this is a complicated season celebrated with complicated, messy, wonderful people? Examining the expectations we carry can help us prepare for holidays that aren’t flawlessly jolly .

here are so many ways our expectations can actually get in the way of what we really want. The thing is, we’re all still human, even on special days. Instead of striving for an entire holiday that’s glittering and magical, what if you paid attention and noticed those special moments you don’t want to miss? (Watch these related videos about the pressures of holiday expecations and questions to ask. )

Sometimes what’s hard about the holidays isn’t really about the holidays. When the holidays churn up and amplify what’s already there, it’s tempting to blame it all on the extra stress of the holidays and go back to ignoring it once things settle down again. Can we discern which aspects of the challenges we encounter are specifically a result of the holidays and which are pointing us toward broader places in our lives that need attention? (Watch the related video.)

I know what helps me find energy and calm in my days. Often those very practices are the first things to go when my day-to-day routine is interrupted—right when I need them most. What would change if you brought your non-negotiables along for the holidays ?

For many of us, the holiday season is filled with extra activities and tasks. In the flurry of updating our calendars and checking our to-do lists, there’s a more important question that’s often overlooked. Who will you be for the holidays ?

I’d love to know…what are you looking forward to during this season? What are you dreading? What has helped you make the most of this time? What are you going to do differently this year?