They're also a time of frenzy and exhaustion and loneliness and hard memories bubbling to the surface when you least expect it.
We're over-scheduled, because 'tis the season! We eat too much sugar and drink too much alcohol or caffeine or both. We don't sleep enough, because there's so much to do do do!
I don't know what to do about any of these things but try to schedule better, and be more deliberate. And also maybe acknowledge the frenzied overscheduliness of the season, reminding myself that it is temporary.
I just recently learned to remind myself that "nothing is forever" in yoga. Oh, and now I do yoga. I don't know what kind. People always ask if you do yoga, and then they ask what kind.
I used to say no, but now I do, and I do it at the Hilton and so I call it Hilton yoga.
Although the truth is I always had my own version of getting through temporary discomfort. For as long as I can remember I've told myself that I can do anything, no matter how hard or miserable, for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes up to a year.
I should add, however, that I now try to incorporate happiness into my life. And now that I know that joy is attainable, I'm less inclined to do something miserable for a year just for my resume or whatever.
Because you know what my dad's advice of just do it for a year for your resume taught me? To be unhappy for longer.
But I digress. I may have even digressed from my digression.
My point is this. We look beautiful in this photo, don't we? Julie and Emily at Tellchronicles make everyone beautiful. I've not seen a single photo where their subjects don't absolutely glow.
(And I am trying very hard not to pick on my flaws because I see them. Oh, I see them.)
But back to the delightful, seemingly effortless photo.
Please, don't be deceived.
Prior to the photos, to get to us to that point where we are all smiling and looking overjoyed to be together, I had to beg, and I mean beg edging into threats.
I begged and threatened my husband and my children to get in clothing. Not even clothing they dislike. Their regular clothing.
My son was wearing a grey fleece hoodie--the one he wears daily--and still, I had to cajole.
Nick, who prior to the photo shoot was not remotely interested in a photo shoot. was sitting in the dining room doing work while I was running around doing my makeup, doing my mom's makeup, trying to convince India on her outfit, begging Jordan to put on his clothes.
We were on the verge of late, and I was flustered and frankly, angry. Why was it all on me?
Why why why am I the only person in our house who cares if we have family photos with our entire family in them? Because ordinarily, we have photos of a motherless family. And they're rolling their eyes all, Mama's taking another picture.
I wanted ALL OF US to be in the picture. And I was going to have beautiful family photos THIS YEAR if I had to STAB someone I was related to in order to do it.
We were verging on late and Nick and I were bickering, and it was all stressful.
We finally met up with Emily, and she started working her magic, and suddenly, it was fun. For everyone.
And so what you don't see, when you see the happy family, the perfect tree, or the scrumptious meal on a fancy table, is the background stress and fighting and insecurity and feelings of loss.
You see the beauty, the perfection. And maybe a little piece of you wonders if you measure up.
This cannot be just me. I know it's not just me. So I am saying this to you (and me).
Of course you do measure up to whatever standard might be in your mind, because it's internal. There is no universal measuring stick that you have to stand next to.
You're wonderful. You, just as you are.
You may be tired, so very tired. You may be short-tempered. Your pants might be tight. You may not be all that well organized. Your house might be a mess.
You are a beautiful human being. You're smart, so smart, and funny. You have a different perspective from everyone else, because though all humans have similarities, nobody else sees through your eyes. And that's delightful.
You're kind, and kindness glows.
You are amazing, and you are loved.
Sugar is nobody's friend, but it sure is delicious. Sleep is critical. Alcohol is actual poison, but it certainly is fun sometimes.
The holidays are a giant dollop of wonderfulness smothered in whipped cream and topped with sprinkles and one of those long wafer straw cookie things with a marshmallow crammed on top and then lit on fire.
They are everything all at the same time, and that time is right now.
As with everything, they will not last. These moments are fleeting, for good and bad.
If the holidays are hard, that's OK. If they're too hard, and you think you could use some help, good for you for recognizing this. You are not alone in this, ever.
I see your glow, and you are incandescent.