Whatever you do for holiday it's right

WORKING WOMAN

December 26, 1993|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

It is during this season of the year that we want to be the most loving, the most generous, the most organized, the most fun -- in short, the most perfect people we can be.

But the trouble with wanting to be perfect is that it encourages us to question and second-guess every decision we make, every gift we give, every piece of the painstaking preparations we make for celebrating these holidays.

Instead of putting ourselves through this ordeal again, let's make this the year we stop it -- stop judging, criticizing and second-guessing ourselves and start patting ourselves on the back for what we do right, instead.

If we've spent a lot of money on gifts, decorations, entertainment or food, let's assume that we did so for no other reason than that we felt a clear need and/or desire to do so, and let's not agonize about it.

Instead of calling ourselves names ("immature," "impulsive," "unrealistic" and "self-indulgent" come to mind) because of our easy-come attitude about money, let's allow ourselves to experience all the good feelings that come from being loving and generous toward others.

If we made the decision to cut back this year, on the other hand, to spend less money, time and/or effort, let's not question ourselves about this choice, either, but assume instead that we had good reasons for reassessing our priorities, or we wouldn't have done so.

Let's remind ourselves of the truth about gift-giving, as well, which is that those friends and family members who really matter to us would never change their good feelings about us because of the presents they do -- or don't -- receive.

If we invited 50 people over for Christmas dinner this year, knowing perfectly well that we'd be up half the night before and totally worn out by the time the last guest departs, let's decide right now not to ruin our anticipation of this event -- or our memories of it -- by asking ourselves even once what we were thinking of when we took on such a responsibility.

Instead, let's assume that this sort of gathering is just what we needed this year -- that the benefits vastly outweigh the work and hassles involved -- or, once again, we wouldn't have decided to do it.

If we choose to keep the Christmas or Hanukkah feast small and simple this year, on the other hand, or to let someone else slave over the hot stove for once, let's decide right now not to spend one minute before or after on self-recriminations about not cooking a meal fit for a Walton family gathering.

And if we bought our dear Aunt Sophie a green scarf and remembered only after it was in the mail that it would clash with her purple hair, instead of feeling embarrassed or guilty, let's remember that Aunt Sophie knows we cared enough to shop long and hard for her.

If three things have gone wrong during this frantic, festive holiday season -- at least three are bound to -- let's not fret one minute over them, but instead congratulate ourselves lavishly for the 97 things that have gone right.

If we've spent time and energy cleaning and decorating our "nests," let's not allow our eyes to pass quickly over the shining furniture and lovely decorations and settle on the one corner we forgot to clean up.

And if we cook and serve a huge holiday feast, let's remember the next day the smiles, compliments and groans of contentment it generated, and not the fact that the soup wasn't hot enough or the rolls were a little, uh, crispy.

Finally, let's not dismiss all the gentle, positive, loving things we've said and done for our spouses, children and other family members during this busiest time of the year, and remember only the one or two times when our patience perhaps wore a bit thin and we sounded a bit like an hysterical chipmunk.

We wouldn't dream of judging and criticizing a friend in such a way, after all. We would never point out her deficiencies while ignoring her honest efforts. And we wouldn't presume to second-guess her decisions about how she wants to celebrate this holiday season, either.

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