by Penny Steen

Your holidays aren’t going to be perfect…and neither are mine. That doesn’t mean to say we aren’t going to experience sublime moments, but to expect each day—each gathering to be only positive, is to invite that dripping icicle of holiday discontent.      

Doesn’t mean we can’t be hopeful; full of plans; even dancing in anticipation. It just means that this year, we’re going to give ourselves (and everyone else around us) the gift of saying: “yes; those less-than-perfect holiday moments are going to happen. And that that’s okay”. 

Generally; accepting that something’s ‘okay’ implies not only that we’re getting less than we hoped for, but that we have to be grateful for it to boot. So right off the bat, I’ll be honest about ‘the okay gift’. It’s neither pretty nor glamorous, nor does it give an inkling of how spectacularly handy it will be once things actually do go awry (when you unwrap your toaster and your sister…her diamond earrings; when your smirking brother-in-law announces his promotion and huge raise; or when Aunt Katherine asks why I’m still single and the room falls silent). 

No; we’re not likely to understand its incredible beauty; its pricelessness; its usefulness until we find a plunk-down quiet moment/place to admit we’re jealous; peeved; embarrassed. And here’s the key to unlocking its greatness. We add a: “Hey; I’m allowed! I’m allowed to have a less-than-perfect reaction; a less-than-perfect holiday; a less-than-perfect life. It’s okay”. (And if we aren’t mentally or physically incapacitated, don’t have a terminally-sick child, or aren’t faced with the unexpected death of a loved one—it is okay, isn’t it.) And who knows? We might even remember that sparkly earrings and big raises don’t mean much to us; and that living singly can be delicious. 

Personally, I just adore this gift. In fact, I’d stack it against any other one you or I will ever receive for what other will give us the grit—the lifelong grit and grace to embrace all we are, just as we are…in spite of our foibles.  

So be of good cheer. The holidays are going to be less-than-perfect. 

Okay?

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