Ten years ago, I was newly married and celebrating my first Christmas with my husband. I poured over Christmas magazines (before the days of Pinterest) and obsessed about what I wanted my tree and decorations to look like. I was determined that everything would coordinate and look just so, despite our limited means. My gifts were painstakingly wrapped and I spent hours making the perfect bows to go on top.
Fast forward to present day, and I now have a dying real tree decorated (because we apparently didn't water it properly) with whatever decorations we could find in the ornament boxes (because when you have a baby mid-November of the previous year, you just aren't that good at getting them all packed up correctly). Gifts are mostly wrapped and a few even have ribbon on them, but I am one Target trip away from buying those pre-made stick-on bows that my former self would NEVER have used in a million zillion years. Oh, and I can't even find our stockings from last year. (Dollar Tree, here I come!)
In my private practice, I mostly work with adult women who struggle with the things most women struggle with... depression, anxiety, parenting challenges, self esteem, and stress in general. In the last month, it also seems that we have had the same general theme of challenges that they are all facing, which I believe is pretty universal.
"We do not have to compete with anyone, including our past selves."
Who you were 10 years ago, or 1 year ago, is not who you have to be today. We are often our own worst critic. Really, who is that worried about how your tree looks? Or how many decorations you have outside? Likely the only person worried about that stuff is YOU. And if there is someone that judgemental or that actually pays attention to those details, I would say that it probably says a lot more about THEM than it does about you.
Stop comparing yourself to others or what you used to do. Get off of Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Let. It. Go.
In this short time left before Christmas, focus on the things that you want out of the holiday. Do you want your kids to remember moments they had with you, or how mom used the fancy china and wouldn't let them touch anything? Now if fancy china is your thing, I am not knocking it... more power to you. I am just saying that it is not required to have a special Christmas with you family. Try to focus more on the moments that make things special. Ask your kids what they would enjoy doing with you or the family. Maybe they want to make cookies (and a mess). Maybe they want to sit in their PJ's and watch Christmas movies all day. The point is that Christmas and the holidays are about what you want them to be, not what Southern Living says is the new trend in garland.
Take a moment and think about what you want to remember about the holidays and let that idea be your goal. Pin that image in your mind and focus on that.
With this in mind, you can let go of a lot of the stress and pressures we place on ourselves to have that perfect Instagram post and just enjoy the moments. Find some time to take care of yourself (think snugly socks, cozy blankets, bubble bath, or just quiet devotional time with coffee). And most importantly, let go of the comparisons. Keep your joy at home with you where it belongs.
"Take a moment and think about what you want to remember about the holidays and let that idea be your goal. Pin that image in your mind and focus on that."
Jessi Robertson, MS, LMFT
Therapist. Mom. Writer. Consultant. Coffee Lover.