Part of me welcomes the Holidays. Part of me cringes. But aren’t the Holidays a happy time? I’ll not argue that. Not at all. However, this time of year always induces in me stress, if not outright stress, an undercurrent that can eat away at my peace until I feel like a basket case.
Stress can come from a variety of things. For college students, this time of year means finals, especially for freshmen who face them for the first time. For K-12 teachers, this time of year means wrangling out-of-control students. Then comes the added layer of buying gifts for people, straining both time and potentially financial resources.
Then comes a potentially unanticipated stress. That of expectations. We see it everywhere. People should be happy, happy, happy during this time of year, right? That’s what a lot of the Christmas songs say. Or we’ll have the perfect Christmas dinner with everyone gathered around the table like a Norman Rockwell painting. And the kids? Perfect Christmas outfits with no fighting, right? At least that’s what Facebook, Pinterest and name-your-social-media-platform tells us.
Face it. This Holiday season won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. Let go of those thoughts that it will be. More than that, embrace the imperfect. Case in point. Clyde, my 10-month-old puppy who I love dearly, will most likely try to eat an ornament or two (he’s already tried to drink out of the Christmas tree stand). My bows… Well, let’s just say I won’t win a bow-making competition any time in the near future. And my mood? Probably up and down.
I’ve learned to let go of expectations of perfection and embrace the imperfect. It’s easy to remember why. Long ago, long ago, perfection entered the world in the form of a baby. He came in a manger, in a small town where raucous imperfection ruled. He came to bring peace.
During this Holiday season as Advent starts this coming Sunday, I’ll strive to keep my eyes on Him. And then, all of what I perceive to be stress due to imperfection will become insignificant.
Question: What causes you stress during the Holidays, and how do you deal with it?