Christmas is season of love not perfection

Dear Readers: Christmas is here. Regardless of your level of preparation, remember that this is supposed to be the season of love, not perfection.If you're not ready in the way you would prefer to be, that's fine. Enjoy what you've done and forge...

Carol Bradley Bursack
Carol Bradley Bursack

Dear Readers: Christmas is here. Regardless of your level of preparation, remember that this is supposed to be the season of love, not perfection.

If you're not ready in the way you would prefer to be, that's fine. Enjoy what you've done and forget about the rest.

Letting go of your expectation of perfection can go a long way toward making this a nice holiday, and acceptance of what life is right now can be an enormous part of this process.

Caregivers, especially, may need to make changes in routines. You can't be all things to all people, so the fact that Mom pulled off a Christmas to rival "Miracle on 34th Street" doesn't require you to continue with that tradition if it no longer makes sense.

Own your personal celebration. A few changes in routine, along with occasional attitude adjustments when necessary, can make the difference between an enjoyable Christmas and one you'd rather forget.


Here are some suggestions that may help.

Don't let small glitches ruin your holiday

If everybody's favorite cookies didn't get baked, enjoy yourself anyway. Buy them if that works better.

If a gift intended for someone you love didn't arrive on time, gift wrap an IOU along with a cheerful note and present the real gift when it arrives.

If Grandpa blurts out something hurtful, ignore what he said and carry on.

Don't let mistakes ruin your festivities

If you forget to put the cranberries on the table and discover the dish in the refrigerator after the meal is finished, is that really worth getting upset about?

If you scorch the gravy, see the humor in imperfection. Let the incident become part of good-natured family lore.


Accept that your holiday is not going to be a 1950s film on how it once was. Nostalgia has a way of creating perfection that rarely existed, anyway. This is real time - lumps, stains and all.

Help others

If you are worried about your job, your health, or your loneliness, look for a way to help someone else.

Put aside your worries, your resentments, and your insecurities for the day and reach out to others. You may be surprised at how that can brighten and elevate your day.

Celebrate your way

Some of you will be trying to get through your first Christmas after the death of a loved one or after a horrible diagnosis.

Some of you will be resentful of the holiday spirit all around you while your own parent or spouse is in the last stages of Alzheimer's or cancer.

It's tough to be grateful and festive at such a time. Don't expect too much of yourself. Celebrate simply if you choose, or don't even bother with making a festive show if that works for you. Whatever you want, even if that is to do nothing, is perfectly fine.


Be respectful

If friends or family practice a different faith than you or have different political views, everyone can still have a good time. Respect is the foundation of good relationships and that is all that's needed here.

Remember that the holidays are the most difficult time of year for many people, especially those who are homeless, mentally or physically ill, or who have suffered through the recent death of a loved one. Visit someone in need or invite them to join you. Sharing is at the heart of the holidays.

A pleasant enough Christmas can be enjoyed by most of us if we adjust our attitudes enough to let go of perfection and simply be grateful for what we have in life at this moment.

If we are fortunate enough to have people who love us and whom we love, that should be enough.

I wish you all a blessed Christmas.

Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at . She can be reached at .

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