Finding the Fun in the Dysfunctional Holiday

As soon as I logged onto the slopes report, I knew this Christmas vacation was not going to turn out as planned: 0.00” of snow.  High in the low 60’s.  Rain expected for Wednesday.

It was tempting to call the whole thing off since obviously this year we were not going to have a repeat of the past two years’ mother lode of December snow on the east coast.  It just wasn’t going to be the same.

And it hasn’t been.

The weather has been more pleasant for our little ones.  A  hike is planned for this afternoon on the snow-free trails.  I heard “golf” mentioned under someone’s breath.

Best of all, the slopes have been limited, but less crowded, thanks to everyone else who bailed on this fantastic opportunity for a multi-season holiday.  And slush is the next best thing to powder, we’re realizing.

We had to go into this vacation realizing it wouldn’t match our original idea of a “perfect” holiday, and as a result, we looked for, and found, the hidden blessings these new conditions had to offer.

How else could we apply this mindset to this upcoming week?

So many of us desperately want our holiday to be *perfect*, and thereby construct an image in our mind as to what that should entail.  We are almost inevitably let down.

Our kids are imperfect.  Our relatives are imperfect.  Our judgment in choosing gifts is imperfect.  Our cooking is imperfect (okay, at least mine is).  If your house looks perfect right now, it won’t by 9am Christmas morning.

We need to not only accept these imperfections, but embrace and celebrate them for the blessings they contain. After all, that’s what the first Christmas was all about: unbelievable blessings to the world amidst a bunch of imperfect circumstances.

A teenaged, unwed mother.  A forced census that required a long journey during the last month of pregnancy.  Giving birth in a barn.  Finding out you’re now a fugitive because the king wants to kill your new baby.

The Christmas story is most notable for its imperfections, not despite them, and so can each of our Christmases be.

Step 1: Rather than picturing the “perfect” Christmas in your head this year, imagine the worst-case scenario.  You can do this- you know what’s coming.  You know exactly what Uncle Albert is capable of after that third glass of eggnog.  You know the gift that will be fought over.  You know how your mother-in-law will act.  You can name the elephants in that room.  Play the whole thing out, start to finish, in your mind, including the repercussions for each perceived “disaster”.  If everyone is still alive by the end of this scenario, you can stop stressing.

Step 2: Now imagine you’re watching it on TV.  Pretty funny, huh?  Sit back and see the back story, the endearing quirks, the irony, the misunderstood protagonists, the characters in transition, the comedies of errors.  Separate out the meaningless details from the real storyline that you will stick with you long after the day has played out.  And enjoy the twists and turns, because after all, when’s the last time you had a great laugh over the time everything went RIGHT?

Step 3: Proactively prepare for the hidden blessings.  Know your mom will overbuy for your kids? Then return a few gifts you had planned to give them, and enjoy the savings.  Your sister-in-law is a control freak?  Call her up now and delegate to her everything you don’t feeling like doing.  Strongly suspect your husband hasn’t gotten you anything?  Find the perfect gift for yourself, then plan a day after Christmas where your husband will take the kids to allow you to go out and get it yourself (plus a mani-pedi, in “interest.”) Can’t spend the actual day of Christmas the way you’d like to due to uncooperative extended family?  Plan a Boxing Day (Dec. 26th), New Year’s, or Three Kings Day that’s more intimate, more social, less materialistic…whatever you sacrificed on December 25th.

Step 4:  At the end of it all, reflect upon and appreciate what made this year unique.  Chances are, it will be all the quirks, drama, chaos, little crises, and messes that created the chemistry you will never, ever be able to repeat once the kids are older, the crazy elderly relatives have passed on, the random girlfriend was dumped, and the sister-in-law finally adjusted her meds.

Next Christmas may be more perfect, but I bet it won’t be more fun.  For now, let’s all enjoy the ride.

Merry Christmas!!!!

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4 responses to “Finding the Fun in the Dysfunctional Holiday

  1. I always do # 2 thought out the day every day. It is so much fun! and besides iit’s like being in the movie–a real live comedy!!!!

    Joan

  2. Can’t wait to forward this to my sister, who needs to read this even more than I did!

  3. Brilliant and SO SO True…. “The Christmas story is most notable for its imperfections, not despite them, and so can each of our Christmases be.” Thank you for sharing this insight and experience with us…

  4. Loved this, and I sure could relate!

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