Life is not a Hallmark Card ~ by susan werthem

In case you haven’t noticed, life is NOT a Hallmark card!!!

Over the past two days I have spoken to several of my friends and we all agree that life is definitely not a Hallmark card or one of those sappy movies on TV. Life is messy.

This time of year seems to exaggerate unhealthy family dynamics. We hate to admit it, we don’t want others to know we have issues.

All of us have expectations this time of year and things just don’t always seem to turn out like we imagined. Family drama gets in the way. Feelings get hurt. We feel slighted.

I am not saying these feelings are not valid. In many cases they are well deserved, but this time of year tends to magnify these emotions.

However, if you look at anyone’s Facebook page you would think that everyone has their act together, everyone is having a Hallmark holiday. Everyone except you.

Did you know that the more you use Facebook the more likely you’ll become depressed? Don’t laugh, I’m serious. There have been several scientific studies on this subject.

If you look at just about anyone’s FB page, you will notice how busy and interesting their lives are. And golly look at how many more friends they have than you!! AH…and look at how happy they all are in their photo around the Christmas tree. Yes, we think, yes, they are having a Hallmark Christmas!! Yes, their life is more interesting and better than mine. They are not experiencing any family drama. They are not tired, worried about the bills, concerned about the conversation with relatives they never see but at holidays—they all get along great—just look at their pictures…their lives are just so perfect and they look so content!!

Phooey, we all have drama, we all have baggage, we all have some kind of insecurity, we all have that one relative that always says something that cuts like a knife—cuts to the core—and never realizes it!!

So what can we do to enjoy the holiday and not allow family drama set the tone?

  1. Set boundaries – let’s face it, we want to see our family and friends during the holidays, but there may be some people with whom you just need to set boundaries. If that person starts to say those hurtful statements there are a couple of things you can do…excuse yourself…smile and say excuse me, but I need to go check on the kids, or help in the kitchen, etc. When that is not possible, try changing the subject or prior to going to the gathering, ask your husband, friend, etc. to work with you by them joining the conversation and help in steering the conversation to a different subject. Whatever you do, don’t let this person dictate to you how you feel about yourself. Do not let this person rob you of your joy.
  2. Have realistic expectations – In the past I imagined our young family singing Christmas carols, sharing special cards with one another, dinner with the family with Dad reading the story of Christ from the Bible. Why? Because that is what my childhood looked like in my memory. I don’t remember anything messy, just pure Christmas perfection…is that reality or selective memory? I really don’t know. But I do know, the reality of what Christmas day looked like when I was a young married was not that!! I was racing around the house early in the morning, fixing breakfast while stuffing a turkey, chasing after two kids, freaking out because I forgot to buy a gift for one of my husband’s sisters (oh my gosh how could I do such I thing I would say), and then wait for one of the family members to arrive for dinner…waited once 3 or 4 hours for them to arrive…and still had a smile on my face.

I no longer have these expectations…or should I say I pray every year to be realistic about my expectations. I expect “stuff” is going to happen, someone is going to be late, I will forget to buy something for someone, if I am cooking — something will get burnt, my husband will buy me something utilitarian but I will love it, I will eat too much, someone will make something that doesn’t taste so hot (and I pray it is not mine!!)

It will not be a Hallmark card experience, but it will be my experience. It will be my family and my friends…we will have our messy moments and I pray we can accept them in spite of ourselves and realize we are have our issues, but the season of Christmas brings the family together…with all of our warts and bristly parts.

Christmas cardSo let us celebrate the birth of Christ and realize that He forgives us and accepts us as we are…let us learn from Him that family comes on all sorts of shapes and sizes, with all sorts of drama…take a deep breath…lean on Him the next couple of days…allow Him to walk beside you when the holiday begins to “get” to you.

And know that what you see on your friends’ FB pages are the “non-messy” photos of their lives, as their messy photos they have deleted from their hard drive.

Blessings, Susan…I pray each of you have a blessed Christmas…and enjoy each other…love each other…warts and all.

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