The (mixed) message of the season

I just did something really, really hard.

It was hard because I knew I would be hurting someone’s feelings, and I so didn’t want to do that. But it had to be done, and it couldn’t be done by anyone else but me, and so I took a deep breath, screwed up my courage, and made the call.

This is the sort of thing where you think to yourself, once it’s over, you’ll feel better for having done it. Only I don’t. If anything, I feel worse.

Sometimes Christmas is so not the most wonderful time of the year. I mean, obviously there’s a lot to love about it, but at the same time there’s so much about it that’s very, very difficult.

The thing is, this whole month, and the whole Christmas season is, as best as I can see, just one big fat mixed message.

And that message is: Be generous, but also be selfish. Or, put another way: this is the time to be good and kind and giving to others, especially your loved ones. But be sure to be good and kind and giving to yourself.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: When the stresses of the season get to be too much for you, cut back, let go, don’t feel you have to do it all. Adjust your expectations. Something you get used to hearing every year about this time, isn’t it?

Right. But you know what? I don’t exist in some kind of vacuum; the fact is, I’m not the only one with expectations. And to the extent that my expectations involve other people in my little world, or theirs involve me, the butterfly effect of that adjustment can be massive.

So, here we are. In the interest of being good and kind and giving to myself, I just made a big mess out of my relationship with someone close to me. Which is sort of the opposite of what one hopes to be achieving this time of year.

Now I need to spend a little time sitting and thinking about how I can put things right with her again. At the moment I don’t know what that will look like, but it’s one Christmas gift I know I need to give.

How about you? Ever found yourself balancing on the fence between what you know you need to do for someone else and what you need to do for yourself?

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