In actuality, I recognize that these expectations are set by no one but myself as I internalize what I see on social media and elsewhere. Someone posts a picture of their cute boutique tree and I choose to take it personally for absolutely no reason. It's kind of dumb. But I don't think I'm the only one who does this.
I've been thinking a lot about how I can eliminate this unnecessary burden of holiday guilt from my life, since I chose to put it there in the first place. I came up with a list of some things I could do and thought, why not share this with my blog readers? Let's give up the guilt, shall we?
1. Go on a social media fast. Let's be honest here -- most of us use social media to show others what we do best. We thrive on "likes" and comments, don't we? Of course we're going to put our best foot forward and hide the other one behind the screen as we participate on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, we fail to remember that social media rarely reflects a person's real life. If you're like me and tend to equate the artsy, rounded-corner filtered images on someone's Instagram feed with their reality, maybe it's time to step away from the screen. Log out for a week. Take a breather. Let your mind remember what life was like before Instagram and Facebook. You'll feel better when you're ready to join the virtual world again. Plus, you'll suddenly have time to actually DO all the things your friends have inspired you to do with their fabulous pictures and posts.
2. Don't let Pinterest get you down. Remember, Pinterest is mostly fantasy! The pins that go viral are the ones that look amazing, but that doesn't mean they're worth your time or even possible. And just because someone pinned it doesn't mean they can do it. Take a look at my Pinterest boards. I've successfully completed/acquired about 2 percent of my pins, failed about 5 percent and haven't even attempted 93 percent of them. Pinterest is a lot of fun and an ingenious way to get inspired, especially around Christmas, but it's not a template for reality. If your holidays look like they jumped straight out of Pinterest, you are either a) Martha Stewart or b) crazy, and those are arguably the same thing.
3. Take joy in what you CAN do. So, you have this friend/sister-in-law/cousin/mom with nine kids who does Elf on the Shelf every day, sings in the church choir, has her fabulous tree and all the Christmas decorations up by Thanksgiving, volunteers at the soup kitchen every week and delivers Krispy Kremes in handmade boxes to all of her neighbors. Well ... that's great! You can be proud of those accomplishments (and enjoy those Krispy Kremes). But it's important not to measure our own success against that of others. Make Thanksgiving and Christmas your own. Figure out a few simple and doable traditions you want to incorporate into YOUR holiday season and do the best you can. They will undoubtedly bring joy to your family and others.
4. Be happy for what you have and share it with others. An ungrateful heart leads to comparisons which ultimately lead to guilt, because the grass is always greener in your neighbor's yard. Start with gratitude.You feel bad about your hand-me-down decorations and your lack of Pinteresty traditions? Some people are working long hours, dealing with health challenges and living on a meager budget ... and they might not be able to participate in any holiday traditions this year. Remember that. Then step it up and lend a helping hand. Decorations and fancy desserts are nice and all, but the holiday spirit lies in giving to others.
5. "Stop the glorification of busy." Speaking of Pinterest, I saw this quote there a few months ago and I confess, I needed to read it. There is no inherent value in a busy life. Doing things all day and night does not necessarily make you a good person. It might even make you a person with poor time management skills and an inability to delegate. If you want to have time to do what counts -- bond with your family, serve others and fully enjoy this holiday season -- you may have to cut out the things that don't really matter as much as you think. I've actually tried doing Christmas both ways -- extremely hectic and filled to the brim with FUN! but time-consuming activities and obligations, versus low-key, relaxed and simple, and I much prefer the latter. Make time for what counts and eliminate the rest. The empty spaces will be filled with happy memories and the real purpose of this time of year.
What would YOU add to this list? How can we get rid of the guilt to better experience the "reason for the season" this year?
*digital art created using "Be Merry" by Cherie Mask