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

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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 .

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 .

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?