A Guilt-Free Holiday Season

December 13, 2006
Reduce the guilt many people feel in the rush of the holiday season.

For those of you who aren’t traveling this holiday season, as I am, but worrying about getting ready for the holidays, I wanted to share an excerpt from an article previously published on the Support4Change website. It is one I wrote several years ago about the relationship between the this season and guilt, especially for women, and especially perfectionist women. Here is how the article begins:

Guilt creates more problems during the holiday season than the combination of a UPS strike, a power outage on the night of the school play, and a turkey that failed to thaw on time. That is because this is the time of year when it is assumed that people will demonstrate love, good will, and generosity to all. That’s a tough order for many of us when we’re trying to juggle work, family, community activities — and still find a little bit of time for relaxation and renewal.

For people (primarily women) who are afraid they won’t be loving enough, show enough good will, or be generous enough, the season’s expectations are a particularly heavy burden. Knowing they’re flawed, but wanting to hide that fact from others, they try ever harder to give their maximum effort in all they do. Dashing from one hectic activity to another, they act as though they were appointed God’s special assistants, doing lots of things they wouldn’t chose to do if they didn’t feel such pressure to perform.

Believe me, as someone whose gift-wrappings thirty-five years ago were photographed because they were so stunning, I understand this dynamic all too well. Now that I’m a recovering perfectionist and have even been known on occasion to give a gift in a brown paper bag (horrors!), I would like to offer you some suggestions for avoiding the pitfalls of taking ourselves too seriously.

I hope that you are able to discard unhealthy guilt. When you do, you will discover, that very soon, your family and friends will notice that what you have to offer them is the gift of being the best you, which is the greatest gift you can give anyone.

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