Holidays are stressful. I don’t need to tell you guys why or how, right? You know the drill:
You are required to get the perfect gift for everyone. Then, you have to wrap them perfectly. You need to cook to make the perfect sidedish/dessert/main entrée. The whole house needs to be cleaned in case someone might pop over. You need to have the perfect outfit, hair, bag, shoes. Then, you have to make sure you arrive at each place on time, spending an equal amount with friends and family. Once you get there, people push your buttons (that aunt that always asks you why you don’t have a boyfriend yet, the weird friend who corners you at every party, the brother who won’t stop talking about politics).
Basically, your holiday festivities feel more like work than your actual job does.
One way that I’ve found to have happy holidays (like actually happy) can be summed up in one line from A Course in Miracles:
Do you prefer that you be right or happy?
Do you prefer things go your way or do you prefer to be happy?
When I’m trying to make everything perfect, I’m trying to be “right.” I’m trying to get things to go my way so I can be happy, and so that I can make others happy.
This is not a recipe for happiness. It’s a recipe for stress. Because a) I cannot take responsibility for others’ happiness and b) trying to “make” things go my way sucks all the fun and energy out of me.
When we only see one way to be happy, a lot of the time we probably won’t be happy. Things can’t happen in this one way, in what we designate as the right way, all the time. And sometimes, even when things do go our way, we’re STILL not happy!
My recipe for happy holidays consists of asking myself, each time I feel angry, upset, or annoyed: Do I prefer to be right or happy in this situation?
Instead of trying to make the holidays fit my idea of perfect, I will let them be as they are. Instead of focusing on perfection, I focus on happiness. I recognize that I can feel happy by abandoning the idea that there is a “perfect” and “right” way.
Ask yourself this question when stress arises in the next couple of days, and see what you answer. If you really feel like you want to be right, that’s ok. Accept that. Be glad that you are noticing and being mindful of what you really want!
Sidenote: whenever I accept that I want to be right, I usually discover the willingness to let that go and choose happiness instead. Willingness is right behind the acceptance. And happiness will result from the willingness to let that shit go!