My first year spending the holidays with my husband was quite an eye-opener. I had spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out just the right gift for each person in his family, and wrapping them as if they would be featured on the cover of a magazine. I was pretty proud of myself!
When I was growing up, my small family took turns opening each present slowly, as everyone watched. We would “oooh and ahhh,” thank the person who gave it, and then the next person would open a present, and so on. In my husband’s family, the gift-opening lasts about eight seconds. I kid you not! It’s pure mayhem with ripping paper and shouts across the room over the clamor of everyone else. I was still holding my first present when everyone else was done. How could anyone possibly appreciate the beauty of my presents or how wonderfully thoughtful they were?
I decided they just didn’t do “it” right. But over the years, I realized this louder and more rambunctious clan did it just right, for them. The truth of it is, they don’t really care what you give them, they just value being all together. I wish I had realized earlier that the time together and the love for each other was the gift, not the item. Perhaps I would not have caused myself so much stress. Now, I’m much kinder to myself and don’t worry as much about having everything “perfect.”
The holiday season should be filled with joy, celebration and family. And yet, for many it is a very difficult time. Many factors, including unrealistic expectations, difficult family dynamics, financial pressures, excessive commitments, and grief can cause high stress this time of year. Let’s all take a few moments to show extra kindness to ourselves and those around us. Inevitably, by showing kindness, we will recognize the love.