Where oh where did we ever get the idea the holidays should be perfect? Of course, they are often fun, but perfect? Most of us remember the Thanksgivings of our past as much for the things that went wrong as the things that went right. Lumpy gravy, a rare bird, fire in the deep fryer, all etched in our memory. Even with all of our experience we still begin the holiday season with dreams of a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.
But how can you have a perfect holiday when someone is missing? Death, divorce, or even distance might mean that the family that gathers around the table this year is one or more short. Loss is always hard, but it is really difficult around the holidays. So, what do you do?
First, consider aiming a little lower. Don’t expect perfect. Instead, aim for pleasant. Know the day will be a little different from holidays past.
Second, have a plan that includes being with people. Friends are the family we choose. Pull together a pot luck of other folks who will not be with family. If you have no one to spend the day with, volunteer to serve dinner in a shelter or church. Don’t spend the day alone.
Number three, acknowledge the loss. If you lost a loved one share a memory, “Remember how dad would never let the turkey rest,” or “How Ryan always mixed his corn with his mashed potatoes?” If you are missing someone because of distance, FaceTime them or call. Just be sure to address the elephant in the room.
Finally, focus on the people who are with you. Revel in your blessing. Celebrate that you can help people in need, that you have friends to gather with, or that even though your family is missing a father or son, you still have loved ones around you. Be present. Be grateful. Let go of perfect.