The most surefire way to have a perfect holiday is… just kidding… you can’t. It would be more accurate to say that the way to virtually guarantee that your holiday is disappointing is to set your mind on having everything perfect. While there is often a long list of details to attend to prepare for the holiday celebration, there is one item that should be #1 on your list: Be flexible.
If your idea of a perfect holiday doesn’t involve any other people, you may be able to come close to achieving it. But as soon as you begin to add your spouse, children, relatives, friends, co-workers – basically anyone – to the festivities, you will need to become willing to bend, stretch and flex to accommodate their schedules, quirks and needs.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
People are messy. They can be unpredictable, busy, forgetful, opinionated, cranky, and a whole list of other qualities that can make it hard for them to fit the mold of your “perfect” holiday. It might be important to remind yourself that they have a right to their differing opinions and scheduling options and you will be less stressed if you can go with the flow.
Stuff happens. Kids get sick, money gets tight, your favorite jeans get tighter, decorations break and appliances have a way of going on the fritz when you need them most. These things can happen any time, but somehow seem more disastrous and distressing if you have a rigid idea of perfection. Enjoy what’s working and let others help you with what isn’t.
Weather does whatever it wants. You can plan for the perfectly set table on the patio you saw in your favorite magazine or for a rousing game of lawn football, but Mother Nature will trump Martha Stewart every time. Remember that being together is more important than the setting or style and board games are another good way for the family to interact with each other.
There are simply too many things that are out of your control to guarantee your perfect holiday.
So, what can you do to make the most of this joyous season and make memories that will only get better with time? I have discovered that the key to a “perfect” holiday is to wholeheartedly embrace that it will be “perfectly good enough.”
Do what you can to make it special, but don’t put pressure on yourself – or others – to have every single detail planned and executed exactly as you envisioned. Let other people pitch in by bringing food or games. Adopt an open attitude about who can be with you and who can’t. For families who can’t all be together on the same day, holidays may be spread out through the week. Enjoy what you can while you can and accept that being together and making the best of it is perfectly good enough!
Would you be willing to share how you and your family make the best of holidays? Do you have a “disaster” story you would like to tell? What is your favorite holiday? We would love to hear from you!
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Linaman is a psychologist and executive coach providing counseling and professional development services to individuals, couples, work teams and organizations.