Let's Hibernate Until the 4th of July!
Halloween, All Saints Day, and Día de Muertos have passed into the night and we are rushing towards -- depending upon your faith and practice -- the Prophet's Birthday, Thanksgiving, Advent, Feast Days, Hanukkah, Festivus, Christmas, Kwanza, Boxing Day, New Year's, Epiphany, Orthodox Christmas, Asarah B'Tevet, Orthodox New Year and the season-ending Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
But wait, catch your breath -- February's Tu Bishvat, Valentine's Day, President's Day, Shrove Tuesday -- aka Mardi Gras -- and Ash Wednesday are just the opening hiccups for March holidays! Which lead into April holy days for Christians, Jews and Muslims: Easter, Passover, and Ramadan.
And Tax Day for all of us. Yipee!
It's enough to make me crawl back into bed & pull the covers up to hibernate until the 4th of July!
Little Gremlin Thoughts
It's soul-stinging how we long for the winter holiday season -- Thanksgiving & Christmas are really the only holidays which count in my book -- but dread them at the same time. Expectations surrounding the season are formidable. It's the time of year we want our families to be perfect -- or at least civil and functional -- so that every activity of the season has that idyllic winter glow.
When our children were little I wanted everything to be perfect for them, my husband and our extended families. I usually felt vaguely disappointed -- okay it was more like definitely depressed -- at the end of the season knowing I had not accomplished perfection -- for everyone. OMGosh. Was I insane?! Probably not according to the DSM diagnostic standards, but it took time -- and practice, practice, practice -- to let go of the self-imposed craziness and learn to say No, thank you to not only my own impossible expectations, but also those from our culture which just did not fit me or our family.
I still hear that call to create a perfect holiday season, but recognize those little gremlin thoughts for what they are: unrealistic and unhealthy.
Say No to the Dress
The holiday season is a lot like a wedding. It takes oodles -- and more oodles if you want something beyond a simple wedding -- of preparation, knowing that when something goes wrong -- and it will -- you are ready to laugh and breathe easy walking down the aisle. The marriage almost always takes place by the end of the wedding just as the NFL Dallas Cowboys almost always host a home-game on Turkey Day.
A big part of the preparation for a wedding is the dress. Say Yes to the Dress began airing in 2007 which meant our girls were at a disadvantaged age -- middle and early high school -- dreaming of what their future weddings might become. And here was an exciting new show promoting the search for a perfect wedding dress as the foundation for the perfect wedding -- umm, what about the marriage part which follows the wedding? All the effort and emotional energy in Say Yes to the Dress is focused on obtaining THE perfect wedding dress at all costs, as if this one element in celebrating such a significant life-event secures happiness for the rest of your life. Nobody asks what happens after Cinderella and Prince Charming get to the castle!
"Say No! to the Dress" became the antitoxin anthem in our home -- and I'm sure our daughters cringed every time I would say it. "Say No! to the Dress" was a silly way to encourage our daughters' understanding that the glorious part of the event was the marriage! I wanted our girls to Say Yes to the Marriage regardless of what they wore for the celebration.
And I wanted to hinder the growth of unrealistic, unhealthy gremlin expectations.
Christmas Expectations Freak Us Out
I hear a loud chorus of "Duh, Nonna! Of course the marriage is more important than the ceremony." Well, given that the wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar concern in the US alone and our divorce statistics give most of us less than a 50/50 chance of staying married, I'm not sure we do get it. But that's for another post -- focus Nonna!
I don't think we get it about the holidays either. Just think about how many posts like this one you've read since Halloween. Or take your pick of sarcastic Christmas memes from Clark Griswald to Boromir with a few too many cat memes thrown in for good measure. Christmas expectations freak us out! And we spend quite a bit of time and energy trying to manage that anxiety.
What if we managed expectations? What if we Say No! to the Dress, no to unreasonable, unhealthy expectations? Fewer spot-on, hilarious memes wouldn't hurt anyone!
I hope your holidays are blessed with peace and purpose and you are able to Say No! to the Dress, no to gremlin expectations this holiday season. It's hard work to say "no, thanks" to holiday expectations which don't fit -- somebody, somewhere will judge you for it. But that's not a you problem -- we believe in you and know you are making the best choices for yourself and your family!
With much prayer & love,