On Thanksgiving, one of the most optimistic, passionate lovers of life said to me: “Now begins the Annual Sh*tshow Season. Between now and December 31st, everyone will meet their match.”
I suspect this generated nodding heads from all of us on some level as we’ll find ourselves at dinner tables with family members who are ninja button pushers, children who are over-sugared and under-slept, and life partners who fail to read into our emotional centers to understand our pain without us saying a word.
And the true question is: Why? Why must this season be stressful? Why do we enter it with the prefabricated idea that we’ll have to bite our tongues to tolerate Aunt Millie’s political references and Grandpa Joe’s religious intolerance? Why do we worry about finding the most sensational gifts and “getting it perfect?” (whatever “it” is). And as importantly… What’s the cost?
The highly anticipated holiday season encounters its first kink when our interactions are preheated with expectation, and perfection and ego are baked into our self-presentation. So many of our interactions feel like a selfie… a beautiful but artificial illusion intended to reinforce an idealized image of the roles we believe we are expected to play. Imagine dropping that story.
And while we might be the lone advocate for “you be you and I’ll be me” around the turkey or lentil stew, what if you led by this example? Because really…. Who cares if Aunt Millie has arcane ideas on immigration? Is it possible to not just theoretically love them as they are but to BE LOVE to them as they are?
And by the way, that perfect gift you killed yourself finding for your daughter or son? It’s probably the wrong color in their eyes and even if it’s a squeal in delight smashing success, they will be unable to name it when the next holiday rolls around.
They will; however, remember if you were present, connected, and engaged.
Take a moment and see where you stress yourself out throughout the holidays. What would it take behaviorally to create a 180 shift? Shall we?
By the way – I find a practice of 20 minutes of meditation makes all dinner table discussions more fluid.
My Love & Gratitude,