By Susan Cox
I recently read a book where the main character wants to create the perfect Christmas for herself and her friends. She goes to great effort to find and arrange everything she considers essential for her celebration: decorations, food, gifts, etc.
Earlier this month one of my friends was facing a similar challenge, but her vision was to slow down and have a Christ-focused, family-focused Christmas. She felt like the ideas she found to do so just became another list of things to do and that whatever she did do wasn’t enough.
We are bombarded by messages that tell us we need to do things just the right way particularly during the holiday season. We must buy the latest toy or gadget so our children will have a wonderful Christmas morning. Our house should be decorated with a coordinated theme that looks just like those in the magazines or on Pintrest. Meals must be lovingly prepared and beautiful to look at. And, of course, we should be volunteering our time and donating to the less fortunate.
Is there such a thing as a perfect Christmas? How can you have the holiday season you want?
First, you must decide what is important to you. Do you value spending time with family or friends? Do you enjoy finding special gifts for others? Do you want to help others? Are there certain traditions you like to fit in? When you know what your priorities are, you can determine which holiday activities and demands fulfill those priorities. You don’t have to do everything if you don’t want to; saying “No” doesn’t mean you are a Scrooge. My friend decided to just continue doing the activities her family enjoys and not be pressured to add more to their schedule.
Next, figure out what your style is. My family used to live close to one of our aunts. When we went to her home for holiday meals, she had the table prepared with fancy place settings and treats by each place. She also liked to give fun gifts to my children. I felt inadequate inviting her to our home. I didn’t have fancy dishes or the means to provide special gifts for her and her family.
Eventually, I realized I didn’t have to do things just like she did. She enjoyed using her nice dishes and arranging the table beautifully. That was her thing; it didn’t have to be mine. I could do something simpler that was still lovely. Don’t compare yourself to others. We all have different strengths and interests.
Additionally, don’t get discouraged when events turn out differently than you planned. In the book I read, two friends of the main character decide to rent a snow machine since they know snow is part of her perfect Christmas. Unfortunately, the machine gets turned up to the blizzard setting soaking everyone. After the initial shock, everyone finds the situation humorous and they go on with their celebration.
Finally, enjoy the way you choose to celebrate during the holiday season. If you thrive on the hustle and bustle of the season, then fill your time with many activities. If you prefer a slower pace, then weed out the activities you don’t value or enjoy. Don’t feel pressured to meet someone else’s expectations for the holidays. There is no one “right way” to celebrate Christmas. The perfect Christmas is what makes you happy.
Susan Cox is one of The Republic’s community columnists, and all opinions expressed are those of the writer. She is a mother, an adjunct instructor of English at Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus and a substitute teacher for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. She can be reached at email@example.com.