Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of a frequently intense holiday season. Many individuals spend the days leading up to the end of November as the time to plan all activities for the remainder of the year. Even with the best of intentions, many people often find that those plans rarely produce an exact match to what actually occurs. (Poor gift selections, not-so-perfect recipes, and common cold weather-related illness can put a damper on our grand intentions.)
However, something almost mystical occurs when we think about the approaching holiday season. Our minds repeatedly conjure up images of a nice relaxing time where families and friends gather for hearty laughter and good cheer. It does not matter how our dreams pan out, from one year to the next, we seem to lose sight of how stressfully treacherous the holiday season can be.
Why then, when we imagine relaxing with family and friends, do we end up putting ourselves through so much stress or misery by spending countless hours preparing the perfect meal or searching for the ideal gift? I believe we try to make everything as wonderful as possible in attempts to create happiness. In our inspired efforts, we strive for perfection because we truly want to make our holiday fantasies come true. The trouble with that philosophy is that we cannot personally “produce” happiness.
Happiness is something you own within you and not something to buy or to create. A person sitting down to eat a meager family meal may be a very happy person at that moment while a different person feasting on the finest foods available to him or her may not feel that same type of happiness at all. Sure, a holiday planner may be able to present a luxuriously pleasant dining atmosphere but without an inner “thankful” feeling among the participants, the five-star gathering may not be so grand. Something will be missing.