Comparison Is The Death Of Joy

downloadI did two things I had never done before today. The first involved butter chicken. My university spawn was home for the weekend, and has always been rather adventurous when it comes to food. He showed me a recipe for butter chicken and off we headed to the store for the ingredients. I had never made it, or eaten it. After much dicing, chopping and simmering, we all considered it a huge success.

The second involved my amazing husband of only eighteen months. We decided to try to hang outdoor Christmas lights together. After a few disagreements (that is what you call them when you are still newlyweds 🙂 ) about the placement of said lights, we are also considering that a success. What did I learn today? First, you should never attempt to hang lights after eating butter chicken (more on that another time). Second, from now on I will decorate the inside of the house and hubby will decorate the outside. ❤

It is that time of year isn’t it. You simply cannot escape it. The twinkling of lights, the parades, the larger than life inflatable snowmen popping up all over the city. Do not even get me started on all the holiday shopping, the tree decorating, the cookie baking, or the family dinners. How many more Christmas movies can we possibly sit through? 

I love it all! Yes, you heard me right. I have been known to stand in the freezing cold, rain, sleet or snow just to have my young children catch a glimpse of Santa in the parade. I miss that tradition now that they are grown. I do in fact have a huge snowman on my front lawn. I watched my first holiday movie on the tenth day of November and will enjoy many more. I will bake cookies in the shapes of wreaths and mittens while Jingle Bells plays in the background. I hope it snows that day. I always make a huge turkey feast which includes my moms recipe for stuffing. I hope it snows that day too. 

My need for a traditional holiday doesn’t stem from not having one as a child. I had great family holidays growing up, but not always in a traditional sense. My parents were divorced when I was very young so there was much travelling involved. I can tell you that my best childhood memories were spent with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. One small house, one small tree, but so much laughter and love.

The holidays take on a different shape for all of us. Much like the ornaments on our tree, each of us very unique and beautiful. 

More than anything else you take from this today, that is my message. Let your holiday season be you. I truly feel that when we start comparing what we have or don’t have to others it is detrimental to our self-worth. Mark Twain said it best when he said “comparison is the death of joy.” I get it, in today’s world of social media it is easier than ever before. The uploaded images of the perfect family holiday portrait, the stunning Christmas tree, and the stockings hung from the mantle. 

Nothing has changed from the era of the Polaroid picture….nothing. Those picture perfect Christmas trees still have baby’s yanking all the ornament’s off  of them. Oh, and those perfect family photos you are seeing? The mom melt down to find the matching outfits and the perfect shade of nude lipstick was at least a ten.  All kidding aside, the benefits of social media and photo editing is that we have the option to “crop out” the chaos. When we look back on our childhood photos we can see the littered coffee tables and the toys on the floor. Today, we can edit those photos nice and neat. So, stop comparing your holidays to others. Live them, love them, enjoy them, in whatever form they may take.

The holiday season can be a wonderful time for many, but it is also a time when people struggle. There are a host of reasons why people can find the holidays difficult:

  • financial obligations
  • struggling to keep on track with weight loss and healthy diet
  • interactions with distant or dysfunctional family members
  • added time constraints, holiday shopping, parties, etc
  • missing family members who are no longer with us
  • stress to plan out who spends time with which family members/divorce/in-laws
  • “idealisations” of the perfect holiday
  • loneliness if they have no family or friends to spend the holiday with
  • depression or social anxiety 

There are things you can put in place to cope with many of these situations and help make your holiday season more bright. 

Set Clear Boundaries

Spend your holidays the way you want. Do not be guilted into spending your season travelling to multiple homes or visiting family members that cause you distress.  Enlist the support of your spouse, partner or friend and stick to your plan. There is no right or wrong way, just your way.

Establish A Budget

There is nothing worse than the added stress of over spending during the holidays. Many studies prove that holiday related depression is directly related to debt incurred during this time. Set a budget and stick to it. Remember that great gifts don’t have to cost a fortune and can be made with love.

Start New Traditions

This is a very difficult time of year for those missing loved ones they’ve lost. Try establishing a new tradition to honour them during this special time. A new ornament hanging on the tree just for them, or a special memento on the mantle. This time will be hard and the loss will be felt. Talk about it with those you love and please remember to try to tell all of those great loving stories as well.

Give Yourself A Break

Pinterest makes life look wonderful doesn’t it? Now back to reality. Do not be too hard on yourself if your tree is just slightly crooked or your stockings are hung with scotch tape.  We always set our personal expectations high. Instead of stressing about tying those perfect bows or hand making ornaments, prioritize what is really important. We all have regular lives outside of the holidays, jobs, children, relationships, and we will burn out if we aren’t careful. Slow down, take a deep breath and remember what things you actually love. Just do those, nothing more and nothing less. 

Do Something Charitable

I stress this last one to everyone, because it doesn’t cost a thing. This time of year can be very lonely for a lot of people. It is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate. For some, they don’t have that option. Smile. Hold a door open. Volunteer. If you have the means, donate. 

From me and mine…..to you and yours

Much Love ❤

 

 

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