Making the BEST Ever Holidays “Over the Top”!

Making the best ever holidays over the top blog
Living The Big Stuff

Making the BEST Ever Holidays “Over the Top”!

By Richard Carlson

I’d love to share with you today a holiday piece that Richard–my late husband and founder of the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” series–wrote a decade ago. It appeared in his “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” column in 2005, and the infinite wisdom it holds still stands true today. Never before has our culture so needed a gentle reminder to slow down and embrace imperfection this December.

If you want to have over the top “great holidays” here’s a suggestion.

Most holidays would be “over the top,” if not for the frenetic pace in which most of us operate. The sheer pace of the season puts stress on what ought to be a joyful time. The secret then, is to slow down–even if you get fewer things done. Perhaps you can’t bake as much as you’d like, or go to every single holiday party, or send out quite as many cards, or even buy as many presents. Heck, there are other advantages to that anyway, like your credit card balances in January.

By slowing down, and doing fewer things, you’ll end up enjoying everything you’re doing so much more. You’ll be more present with the people around you, creating more intimacy and closeness, and you’ll appreciate every aspect of the holiday season. It works for me and I know it will work for you too!

When we’re moving too fast, rushing around and scrambling, we lose two very important parts of ourselves: our perspective and our wisdom. So, the end result is that we lose our gratitude, and our expectations are never met. Nothing is ever good enough. Everything seems like an emergency, so when even the littlest thing goes wrong (and something always will), we feel like things “aren’t perfect.” I’ve seen people so frantic around the holidays that when a single batch of cookies gets burned, they freak out like it’s a national emergency!

When we slow down, however, we realize the beauty within the imperfection. In fact, we drop the need to label things as “perfect” or “imperfect,” and we simply accept things as are they are. In fact, when something does happen to go amiss, you’ll find yourself laughing it off, seeing it as part of the process. One year, a friend’s Christmas lights all went out the night of his party, but rather than freak out, he decided that it was amazing that everything other aspect of the party had come together beautifully. He focused on what was right instead of what went wrong.

Slowing down has a magical quality to it. It allows you to read your holiday cards a little more carefully, write your own with a little more love, be just a tiny bit more generous, be kinder to the strangers you meet and, probably most importantly, when something does go “wrong,” whatever it is, you can honestly say “don’t sweat the small stuff.” There will be more love in your heart and when you have what you need, from an emotional perspective, your natural instinct will be to give more love to others.

Don’t worry if everyone else is rushing around. If you’re able to be a bit slower and not act like every little thing is an emergency, your mindset will be contagious. Others around you will feel calmer and more secure and–although they may not know what it is–they will experience more fun to be around. There will be far less grumpiness this year around your holiday table, and it will be replaced by laughter and good cheer. I’m going to guess that if you slow down, you’ll also find ways to bring more joy to even more people in your life—to those whom you know, as well as to total strangers. You’ll be more generous and by being so, you’ll brighten the season for many. Indeed, this Christmas is going to be “over the top” wonderful, in large part simply because you slowed down enough to enjoy every aspect of it. Merry Christmas!

Richard Carlson column “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” Knight Ridder, December 18, 2005

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