The Christmas cards are coming! The Christmas cards are coming!
This time of year is amazing – my favorite – but certain parts can be difficult to navigate. Soon our mailboxes will be full of glossy Christmas cards with beautiful families in coordinated outfits, we’ll be reading Christmas letters about new babies, new jobs, and new homes, and our social media feeds will showcase our friends’ fabulous winter fun, spectacularly decorated living rooms, and gift-giving abundance.
Sometimes we see these things and then look around at our own very normal (and messy) lives and wonder, “What is wrong with my family? Why did we get the short end of the stick?”
To keep the Grinch (and Christmas-card-incited jealousy) away, it’s important to remember that things aren’t always what they seem.
Here’s an example:
My family rented a cabin in Leavenworth for Thanksgiving.
Here’s what you pictured in your mind when you read that.
Here’s where we actually stayed.
Not to take anything away from our cozy little KOA cabin because you all know how I love me some camping, but you have to admit there’s always a bit of assumption clouding our thoughts. Add that to the fact that our human nature tends to grasp on to any little indication that we don’t quite measure up and we’ve got ourselves a perfect recipe for holiday jealousy.
To keep your Christmas season merry, try to keep the following things in mind as you’re walking through it:
Christmas cards and social media are highlight reels. These are ways to share snapshots of life. They’re not intended to be a complete autobiography. Space is limited and people don’t want to spam their friends, so what they share is selective. The mundane or crummy moments don’t usually make the cut, because they don’t stand out.
Focusing on the positive does not equal bragging. Just because someone omits some of the more “real” moments of life doesn’t make it malicious. We’re constantly given the message to be grateful and focus on our blessings. Representing yourself to the world is a delicate balance of gratefulness, respect, and honesty. Choosing to leave out difficult moments doesn’t necessarily mean someone wants to portray themselves as perfect, it might just mean that they’re trying to respect their family’s privacy.
There’s always more to the story. Unless you live in someone’s house, you can never have the whole picture. Making assumptions is never healthy and just leads to ridiculousness, anyway.
Do you struggle with holiday jealousy? How do you balance representing your family honestly while maintaining thankfulness and respecting your family and its members’ privacy?