You know how everyone seems to expect the holidays to be perfect? You may feel pressured to have the perfect presents under the tree (and lots of them). You may be expected to prepare the perfect holiday feast. Maybe you feel like you’re supposed to act perfectly happy and content, even though the holidays remind you of losing someone you loved or having your heart broken or not having someone you love to spend the holidays with. Maybe you think you’re supposed to look a certain way or dress a certain way. Maybe you feel pressured to stuff your feelings and overlook the way your family sometimes hurts you.
Sure, it’s a time to be grateful for what we have. But the holidays don’t have to be perfect. It’s WAY better when they’re just real.
But what does it mean to be real? Margery Williams says it best in The Velveteen Rabbit:
“’Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’”
The Real Deal
What if, instead of trying to have the perfect holiday, you just let yourself have a REAL holiday and you just let yourself be the REAL you? What if you didn’t have to be polite if you didn’t feel like it? What if you let love lead and let forgiveness reign, but you also gave yourself permission to set boundaries when you needed to? What if you could say “no” when you meant no? What if you allowed yourself to say “yes” when you’re feeling loving towards someone you may not have fully told how you feel?
What if you could love and appreciate the dried out turkey and the God awful fruitcake and the stale Christmas cookies the kids left out for Santa and Great Aunt Gertrude’s horrible breath and the slightly pervy way Grandpa Joe smacks you on the butt and your bad hair day and your daughter’s PMS because they’re so beautifully, messily, clumsily, adorably REAL? What if it’s okay to cry and feel angry and grieve and still laugh at the new puppy as he eats the Christmas tree needles? What if you had permission to feel blissfully happy without being encumbered with the kind of foreboding joy that makes you terrified that you could lose it all?
What if it’s all welcome, the furless places, the worn bits, the sparkly, radiant wonderful parts- all of it? What if there were zero expectations and you could just Be. With. It.- whatever IT is?
Somewhere past the impossible to achieve goal of perfection lies something deeper, something you can trust, something that is essentially unwoundable. It is a place of refuge. It is a way to really come home, and when you go there, life is filled with meaning and purpose and gratitude, even when nothing is “perfect.” This is what I wish for you this holiday season, a taste of that place of refuge, which you can access via that part of you I call your Inner Pilot Light.
When you look at this holiday season with fresh eyes, you will see hidden gems you might have overlooked if you were viewing the holidays with critical eyes. But if you don the magical glasses that allow you to see from the level of your soul, everything takes on a different perspective. You become like George Bailey in the classic film It’s A Wonderful Life, and suddenly you see the imperfect perfection in Janie’s preciously unskilled rendition of Hark The Herald Angel’s Sing, and you see sweet Zuzu’s sparkly eyes and you know- you just know- that perfection isn’t what we’re after.
May an angel like Clarence touch you this holiday season and give you the gift of fresh eyes, so you, like George Bailey, might find great joy in this holiday and have a new lease on life in the upcoming year.
With holiday blessings and trust in grace,
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