Sometimes you’re George and sometimes you’re Harry: A holiday tale

Published by Lori Pickert on December 9, 2013 at 10:04 AM

One weekend you run into a friend who asks you how your holiday season is going and you think about the kid with the never-ending cold, the house that’s a mess, the decorations you haven’t managed to put up yet and the gifts you haven’t even thought about much less purchased, and you say, “Oh, it’s good. How about yours?”

And they tell you about taking the kids into the city to see the lights and then go ice skating and it’s a lot of work but you only get one childhood, right?, besides it’s a weekend they’ll never forget and after they leave the coffee shop you go outside and tap your head slowly on a brick wall for a few minutes.

The following weekend you run into a different friend at the same coffee shop and you’re feeling chuffed about all you accomplished during the week and when they ask how your holiday season is going you say terrific, in fact, you may take the kids into the city to see the lights and then go ice skating and they smile in the way you imagine they would smile at someone going into surgery and pat your arm and say, “That’s nice, but we prefer a season that’s more *meaningful*, you know? Today we’re going to play in the snow, have hot chocolate, and then make handmade cards for the nursing home. But I guess a commercial holiday is fun, too!” And after they leave you go outside to your special wall.

There are a lot of measuring sticks for special occasions like holidays, birthdays, summer vacations — and education, too. The variety is wide enough that you can always find that special measuring stick that makes you look like you’re failing miserably.

This is one reason why people tend to clump up with others who are making similar choices — because then it’s *standardized testing*. You can concentrate on one measuring stick and put all your effort into being the most Waldorf-y you you can be.

FOMO is everywhere this time of year, making you feel like no matter what you choose, you’re blowing it somewhere else. So this is just me popping in to say the competitiveness of “you’re not doing enough”/”you’re doing too much”/“you’re doing the wrong thing” is for suckers. Forget the impossible-to-find sweet spot and instead of being hard on yourself and those around you, prioritize and relax. Pick the thing you really want to do and do that. Do less so you can enjoy more.

 

*Note: There is a fantasy element to this post that imagines you got to go to the coffee shop alone two weekends in a row.

*The title of this post refers to George and Harry Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life. If you don’t have time to watch it this year, I forgive you.

18 comments

Comment by Deirdre on December 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

I fall into the DTMO camp: desire to miss out---and stay at home until the snow is gone:)

My favorite part of this post---your note at the bottom about the fantasy of two solo trips to a coffee shop. *Someday* that will no longer be a fantasy. I'm in no hurry to get there, but I hope when I do, you'll meet me at the cocoa shop (since neither of us drink coffee!).

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 9, 2013 at 02:07 PM

 

that’s JOMO! joy of missing out! ;D i have that, too.

i *always* buy hot chocolate at the coffee shop. you know me so well. :)

(okay, sometimes i get a frappacino…)

Comment by Cristina on December 9, 2013 at 11:42 AM

:-)
I looked up FOMO because I didn't know what it meant and I thought it might be important. Irony!

I also try to make time for It's a Wonderful Life every year! Half the time it means I can only listen to it from the kitchen while I'm rolling out cookie dough. After all these years, it can still get me teary eyed!

I love what you say here, because I prefer my traditions, but I did always feel like I was doing it wrong when the kids were little. I would think, we're so close to the city, I should take them to see the tree at Rockefeller center and go to the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall! We should go ice skating! I should take them to visit Santa! I should...I should... And then the Christmas season is over and I promise to try to fit it all in next year. It set me up for failure until I realized we enjoy the things we do. Isn't that the point, after all? Baking cookies for friends and family and watching Christmas specials may seem lame compared to what others do, but it's what makes the holidays special for me. I hope it makes it special for my kids. I think its much better than the annual Christmas meltdowns I used to have from trying to fit in too much!

Peace and Laughter!

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 9, 2013 at 02:09 PM

 

i love it’s a wonderful life!! :)

It set me up for failure until I realized we enjoy the things we do.

this is exactly what i was trying to say — why frame it as a failure when you had a good time? why sprinkle angst on your joy?

Isn't that the point, after all?

YES! :)

Comment by Carrie Mac on December 9, 2013 at 06:03 PM

This is our nesty-est month.
We stay home as much as possible.
That way I don't even KNOW all the stuff we might be missing out, let alone my kids getting a whiff of what's to be had in the Seasonal & Sparkly Department.
If I go out, my confidence gets wobbly, and I all of sudden think that I'm failing my kids by not doing enough.
So, to battle that, we pretend that nothing's going on at all.
"Nothing to see here, folks. Nothing to see."

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 10, 2013 at 08:18 AM

hermit-ing is a viable approach to dealing with this month. ;o)

Comment by janet on December 9, 2013 at 06:06 PM

JOMO all the way! we live in the woods at the bottom of a steep drive. nothing better than an ice/snow storm for keeping those pesky holiday obligations at bay.

love the clumping thought. i'm not a joiner, though it irritates me that i come across anti-everything, or oppositional. thank goodness there's the internet to verify i'm not alone in my JOMO!

btw, o loves the lego ice skaters. he was bummed that we don't have enough clear bricks to pull off an ice rink.

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 10, 2013 at 08:21 AM

 

i’m not a joiner either. :P

and we also live in the woods at the end of a long drive — love having that built-in excuse to opt out. ;D

do you remember the lego mosaics? they came with two of those small clear baseplates. we were working on our lego christmas layout and bemoaning the fact that lego doesn’t make big white baseplates.

Comment by Kim Oliver on December 10, 2013 at 06:58 AM

No FOMO out here, we do what we do because it feels right for us. And in the end that is what makes us happy.

Love the first note about the fantasy element...that would never happen around here :)

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 10, 2013 at 08:21 AM

:)

Comment by Teika Bellamy on December 10, 2013 at 11:27 AM

I hear you Lori!

Though...

" So this is just me popping in to say the competitiveness of “you’re not doing enough”/”you’re doing too much”/“you’re doing the wrong thing” is for suckers. "

'Suckers' ?

Perhaps 'perfectly imperfect humans' is more accurate and a little gentler?
;-)

Thanks for the well-written story :-)

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 10, 2013 at 03:38 PM

i err more on the side of humor than TLC. ;o)

Comment by SarahA on December 11, 2013 at 08:58 AM

Thanks for this Lori. Partly inspired by your masterclass and all that I learnt there, about two weeks ago i decided to make slowing down and being un-stressed (nay, being relaxed!) my goal for this holiday season. And it's working! I said no to offers of work, no to a couple of party invitations, and yes to making shortbreads with my girl and just hanging out doing 'nothing' and yes to making wrapping paper and wrapping presents together and sewing clothes 'together' for her Christmas doll which has somehow ended up in her hands before Christmas! Thanks for reminding me to take the Scrabble board to our extended-family holiday and all best wishes to you and your family for this holiday season, and many thanks for the work you do, so generously mentoring people around the world.

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 11, 2013 at 08:59 AM

sarah, this is wonderful to hear — and thank you again so much! :)

Comment by Mags on December 17, 2013 at 03:35 AM

This is so true! Thanks for a great post and "popping in". I've been thinking a lot about it.
How do we make sure that we do what we want and are mindful of the FOMO feelings, or any feeling around inadequacy that arise when talking to others about their lives and what they are/aren't doing.... ie: how do we "pick the thing you really want to do and do that"... aahh the journey of knowing oneself...
Thanks so much!!
M

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 17, 2013 at 08:45 AM

 

thanks, mags. :)

that journey of feeling the FOMO and then moving toward what we really want — that’s what it’s all about. you have to really think about it — which i think stresses some people out. it’s just easier to go along than start that deep process of figuring yourself out.

hope you have a wonderful holiday season! xoxoxo

Comment by Johanna on December 20, 2013 at 10:15 PM

I needed to read this funny and poignant story. I'm a nester by heart, and so is one of my children. We could do lego Christmas for weeks, but still I get a knowing feeling that we should be going down town, or visiting Santa. But then I remember how miserable that would make all of us and I realize that our tiny little corner of the world is cozy and fun...and it's all we need right now. Thank you so much for the reminder and encouragement. It applies to so many areas of life, as you and others have said.

I'm new to your website, and to the home schooling world (well I was home schooled for a while, but I'm prob going to start home schooling my first grader in Jan) and I am thrilled to have found you!

Happy, restful Holidays in your corner of the world.

Comment by Lori Pickert on December 21, 2013 at 08:43 AM

thank you, johanna! and welcome. :)

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