There’s No Such Thing as Perfect…Even at Christmas Time
Happy Holidays to all of you! This is a marvelous and precious time of year, isn’t it? For many there are holiday gatherings to attend, presents to wrap, cookies to bake – so much to get done and almost no time to do it. And that’s what I want to write about this month -those overwhelming feelings of not having enough time and still so much to do.
As a therapist, I’ve heard from several people that they feel they still have way too much to do, and very little time or money to get it all done. The push to do so much in a short amount of time, no matter what the financial or emotional cost is draining mentally, physically and spiritually. And, of course, we have to keep in mind that there are still the day-to-day chores, work, and school schedules. Things like laundry, homework, work deadlines, etc – it still all needs to get done – even when it’s the holidays.
The expectation that the Christmas Season should be effortless physically and financially causes a lot of people to think there is something wrong with them if they do feel exhausted or the budget cannot accommodate the latest trends for their kids. I’ve heard many people say they want to give their loved ones “the perfect Holiday” or “I want to give my kids the best Christmas ever.”
Of course, we love our family and our dear friends. It’s understandable that we want to do nice things for them! That makes sense. But we often need to take a step back and rethink what TV, social media and others are insisting we do – provide perfection – no matter what the cost.
The cost of perfection is very, very high – in large part because it cannot be attained. I’ve caught myself saying to patients from time to time, “This is planet Earth; there is no such thing as perfection.” Patients and I usually chuckle about this, but there is a lot of truth in it, too. There are a finite number of hours each day, and most of us do not have an unlimited bank account where “money is no object.” Money is absolutely an object, and so is time.
The cost of perfection can be physical and mental exhaustion from trying to do too much, and financial chaos with overspending above and beyond what the budget can tolerate. This is too high of a cost, and I would ask each of you to take a step away from anything this holiday season that makes you feel you need to do more than you can, more than you can afford, or more than is reasonable.
A colleague of mine here at the Bergan Clinic reads a beautiful Christian Devotional on a daily basis. She often shares the Daily Devotional with me. When I came to work this morning, she had placed a copy of Sunday’s Devotional message on my desk. The title of the Devotional for yesterday was “How to Be Perfect.” It had a lovely spiritual message from Edward Mote. The part of Mote’s message that struck me was when he asked “What expectations do you have for the Christmas season? Are they idealistic or realistic?”
This entire blog can be summed up by these two questions:
What are you expecting?
Is it realistic?
This precious and beautiful holiday season, I invite you to take a breath, rethink what’s really important to you, to your family, to your community. Is it more important to exhaust yourself by overdoing it or is it better to slow down and read a Christmas Story to your grandchild, bake cookies with your mom, or attend the Christmas Pageant at your church? Is it more important to overspend and go into debt so that your child can have the latest trendy gadget or would it be more loving to spend reasonably, making sure that faith, family, and friends are the spotlight of the season and not the stuff?
Whatever tradition you and your family celebration this time of year, I wish you the very best. God Bless and Happy New Year!
Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.