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Finding Joy in Our (Im)perfect Holidays

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marlene carabello, cheers2chapter2by Marlene Caraballo

The holiday season is here and along with the excitement comes anxiety, stress and the self-inflicted pressure to make everything perfect.

We run around like maniacs trying to orchestrate the perfect holiday. We drive ourselves crazy with preparations –searching for the perfect gifts, hunting for the .perfect decorations, and googling the perfect holiday recipes

We want our home to be sparkling clean for holiday guests and gatherings. We stress about who is going to whose house, who will cook, when to bake, what to wear – all the way down to the tiniest logistics like making sure we’ve gotten our gray roots covered in time for the celebrations.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Those of us who are parents also go nuts trying to make our adult “kids” feel like they are six years old again! Which is ridiculous, but we just can’t help ourselves! We envision them amazed and delighted at all the festive and magical traditions we’ve prepared that they enjoyed so much when they were little.

But let’s face it, at this point in life – making magic get more complicated.

Many of our grown kids have partners or spouses, which come along with in-law families to share their holidays with. Compromises start to happen and frequently we don’t end up having all of our special loved ones where we’d like them (in our dining room) for our imaginary perfect holiday.

Gift giving is also a more difficult than it was years ago. Our lives are so hurried and busy that figuring out that perfect gift for each of the people on our list becomes an exhausting, head-scratching, maybe even hair-pulling, exercise.

Then there is the puzzle of figuring out the most perfect holiday meal ever. After the considerations of who is gluten-free or vegan or on a special diet or will have already stuffed themselves at someone else’s house on the way here…what is left is nothing but a worry casserole.

It’s no wonder we feel frazzled. We won’t stop unless everything is perfect. The bottom line is that we think everyone will be happy if everything is perfect.

But it’s not true. Perfect doesn’t equal happy.

Happy is a warm hug given to dear friend, a welcoming or heartfelt toast (even if it’s in a paper cup), reminiscing about a loved one lost during the year, tears from a funny story shared or difficult circumstance we’ve endured since the last holiday. Happy is that holiday feeling of gratitude, good will and well-wishes for those we love, near or far.

Take a moment to catch your breath. Let’s embrace the imperfection of it all with open hearts. Enjoy the memories being created in the moment, regardless of whether someone is missing, we never found the perfect gift, the house is dusty, and the roast is burnt.

This is the season to mindfully embrace holidays that are gloriously imperfect and still superbly perfect.

Marlene Caraballo is an eternal optimist,designer by day, and writer by night. She is Mom to three sons, and pet parent to Nutley. Resides in Orange County, NY. VisitBlogs about life after 50 at

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