We celebrate Christmas in our house. Around Thanksgiving, I start to get crazy. Following our big meal, when most of my family is laying around on the couch with a tryptophan hangover, I am scurrying around dragging out boxes of Christmas decorations, and getting more and more angry that no one is helping. I want to start decorating the house. I want to create that “feeling” of warmth that only Christmas can deliver. Of course, in the moment, there is no warmth coming from me at all. I want it to be perfect.

Can you relate to this crazy?

This re-occurring story caused me to write a program that I speak about a lot in this season called, “One Less String of Lights—Maximizing the Meaning and Memory of this Holiday Season”. In the session, I offer different ways of letting go of the crazy to increase what matters. People think I write this kind of stuff for others. Truth is, I’m writing it as a reminder to myself.

Amid the busy, I’d invite that you put that tinsel down, and sit. Sit still.  Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Consider, with gratitude, the blessings of your life.  Okay, so your life may not be perfect, but I bet there is so much goodness. Look for the goodness. My mom always used to say, “Whatever you look for, that’s what you’ll find”. Look for the good. It’s easy right now to focus on all that is not good. We’re bombarded with news of destruction and division. But let’s you and I decide to look for the good and more, to BE the good. Represent kindness. Represent goodness. Represent love.

Do you get holiday cards/letters from folks? Does everyone else’s life seem perfect? Here’s another idea…I’d encourage that you go of the practice of perfection. Maybe practice courage instead? Or stillness? Or meditation? Again, really writing this for myself.  

I remember years ago when my four kids were little, I would get so depressed when I’d get these Christmas cards/letters. You’d write that you had lost 40 pounds this year, that your kids were all straight “A” students, and that they were all on traveling sports teams. I’d look around at my kids and well…let’s just say, that wasn’t happening in my house.

I decided one year, during my crazy, that WE were finally going to have it. I called my Mom who lived in a different city than I did, and I asked her to make my daughter Lizzy and I matching dresses. We were going to have the perfect Christmas card/letter. My Mom just laughed. She too was the mother of four and knew that there was no such thing as perfect when you’re raising a family.

“Um Mom,” I reminded her. “Indeed, there IS perfect. And THIS year, it’s going to come from the O’Brien Family!”

Mom made and sent the dresses. We outfitted the three boys in adorable Christmas attire. A friend came over (this was before cell phone photos) and took … I’m not even kidding…90 (YES, I SAID 90) pictures.  Not ONE OF THEM was perfect. (To see the series of pictures, view the information below). I was devastated. Then I realized, there really is no perfect.  AND, you know what? We were pretty darn good just the way we were!

Here’s the best gift I can give you this season…How about hanging one less string of lights and using that time for “hanging out” with those who matter in your life? Pause. Consider. Wonder. Breathe. Take in the sights, smells, sounds of the season. Make memories. Have conversations that matter. Be grateful for what you have. Compliment someone. Everyday. See the good and articulate it.

We’re offering the recorded session of “One Less String of Lights” if you’d like to hear it. You can listen to it as many times as you need to throughout the season and beyond.  All proceeds from your purchase will be matched by GWLF and will go to Fox Valley Food for Health https://foxvalleyfoodforhealth.org/ This is an amazing organization that prepares and delivers nutrient rich meals to families who are dealing with life threatening illness at no cost. We know. Our family was one of them!

If you’re interested in purchasing this program, click here. https://www.globalwlf.com/mo-webinars

Here’s hoping that this season offers you abundant health, happiness, goodness, and peace. And I bet no one will ever notice that this year, you decided to hang one less string of lights!