The Best Holiday Memories


Norman Rockwell never painted hamburgers and hot dogs in his vision of the American holiday dinner, yet he might have really enjoyed our version of it.


Not all of you will celebrate Christmas, but for those of you who do; I wish you the happiest and most joyful of Christmas holidays. I grew up with a Lutheran father and a Jewish mother, so we celebrated versions of both Christmas and Hanukah. Although the whole season was a bit confusing for me, I remember my family holidays with great fondness.

She was tireless in her energy to make our holidays special.

My mother adopted the Christmas spirit with more passion than my Christmas celebrating father. She loved the tree, the decorations, the music, and the traditional Christmas meal. She was tireless in her energy to make our holidays special. My father’s brothers would join us and my mother would flutter around, making everything perfect. The only problem was that after a few years of this, she was a bit tired of all the fuss and I’m guessing she was also tired of the lack of awareness the rest of us had for all of her efforts.

One year, she’d simply had enough and announced that my father and his brothers would be cooking hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. Yes, an outside grill in the middle of a bitter Chicago winter. If you know my mother, you know that it is futile to argue with her, so my dad and his brothers cooked dinner on the grill. My mom bought a bunch of bags of chips, some goodies, paper plates and a new tradition was born. My brother and I were in charge of the relatively simple clean up and we were all able to sit around and enjoy each other’s company – my mother included.

Norman Rockwell never painted hamburgers and hot dogs in his vision of the American holiday dinner.

I’m sure you’ve figured out that this Christmas was my favorite. It wasn’t as fancy or as decorated as the others, but it was relaxing and meaningful and the start of an interesting tradition. Norman Rockwell never painted hamburgers and hot dogs in his vision of the American holiday dinner, yet he might have really enjoyed our version of it. For me, the best holiday memories were not the ones that were represented on an iconic painting; they were the memories that were just perfect for my family.

That Christmas has been my own reminder when I start to feel anxious about making the holidays perfect. It will never be about a perfectly set table, or a just right turkey, but rather the unique arrangements for my family and what works best for us. My children are happiest when my husband and I are happy. They enjoy the holidays when their parents are present and relaxed, not anxious and cranky. It turns out that my kids care less about the food and more about the company.

It’s not worth the loss of health and happiness that comes from the undo pressure we put on ourselves.

I see so many of my female friends and clients putting undo pressure on themselves to make the holiday season as perfect and fabulous as possible. Yet in the meantime, they are exhausted and unhappy. They crawl into the New Year beat down and without energy. It’s not worth it! It’s not worth your sanity or your relationships, and it’s not worth the loss of health and happiness that comes from the undo pressure we put on ourselves.

So here’s my prescription for a fabulous holiday…Make your memories simple and easy for you. Take the pressure off of yourself and know that most of what we worry about doesn’t even matter to our family and our guests. And if it does, maybe they shouldn’t be your guests. Take some shortcuts, drink some wine, have some chocolate and enjoy yourself. You won’t regret it.

Happy holidays to all of you!

Love,

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

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Comments to “The Best Holiday Memories”


  1. Love your holiday prescription, Lisa! Wishing you and your beautiful family a happy, healthy and joyous New Year!
    Thank you for all of your words of wisdom!
    Cindy

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  2. I agree completely. I have been guilty of doing too much for Christmas. When my kids were younger, I wanted everything to be perfect and I wanted to attend every possible event. It was exhausting. Every year I make my Christmas simpler and simpler. This year, both kids are home and I hardly did any decorating and no baking. I am focusing on spending time with them. It’s so much more relaxing.

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