A few days before our guests arrived for Thanksgiving, my husband sat me down for a talk. In short, he said – I know you want everything to be perfect for this family celebration AND now is the time to lower your expectations for how everyone will play into that and how everything will turn out. He is, of course, very wise. He knows me very well and it was the perfect thing to say, just in the nick of time.
We were dealing with a toddler, two additional young children, an anxious dog, 3 generations in one smallish house for an extended period of time…you get the idea. Rationally, I KNEW it wouldn’t and couldn’t be perfect but still I found myself striving to get to that perfect fantasy holiday…a beautiful meal on beautiful plates with perfect flowers, rested, charming, beautiful guests drinking brandy – like a Pottery Barn catalog.
Here’s the thing — Life, and holidays, are a little messy but I still believe, deep down, that that’s a good thing. The Pottery Barn catalog only looks appealing when you are hiding in the bathroom trying to steal a few minutes of peace amongst the chaos! In reality, wouldn’t it be boring if that’s what holidays really were like?
This year, our Thanksgiving holidays included my nephew stepping in dog poop in the backyard while playing football with his dad and uncle, little kids running around playing hide and seek with poor options for hiding and trying to explain to a toddler that you have to win the dreidel game to get more M&Ms …We also had a really yummy meal and didn’t kill anyone with the turkey – it was a total win!
I read an article recently that said that Happiness = Reality – Expectations. Thanks to my dear husband, I practiced it this Thanksgiving and it really worked! The more we can just accept what is in front of us and step away from the striving for perfection and control, the happier we’ll be. As we continue in this holiday season – a time filled with much busyness, many to-dos and also lots of magical moments – whenever you can, lower your expectations even a little and just pay attention to what’s happening in front of you. Chances are, it’ll be a lot more memorable and fun than that boring, stuffy Pottery Barn magazine.
Deborah Tyson is Boston-based Career Transition Coach. Learn more at www.mobilizecoaching.com.