Thanksgiving dinner makes such a huge mess, doesn’t it? The thought of that mess in my kitchen is sometimes enough for me to just wish it would be over with already! But to wish it away, would be to miss the best parts, which we all know have nothing to do with the meal. How often nowadays do we actually sit down, around the table, with our loved ones, for an unhurried meal? How often do we actually talk so openly about the things we are grateful for with those people? That’s the part that makes the mess so worth it.
Holidays also bring other messes as well. They are prime time for family drama. Some of the folks around our table we don’t see often, and time together brings up both the good and the bad in our shared past! For custom-made families (divorced, separated, step, or chosen), the holidays can present a different kind of mess. Who will the children spend Christmas Eve or Christmas morning with? Who will we invite or not invite to our meal?
Remember those holiday meals of our childhoods that our parents stressed over? They seem perfect to us now in our memories don’t they but at the time, our parents had their own messes to contend with!
The advice I have for these families, of which I am one, is simple. When the children are young, do what is best for them, always. When they are adults let them figure out what is best for them, then do what is best for you, always! Keep the day as pleasant, and drama free as possible, for the sake of everyone involved. When my kids were young we spent holidays with the ex, because that made them happy (See, “Honey please pass the turkey to your dad’s new wife”). Now that they are adults they get to choose what is best for them for the holidays, with no guilt from me! During the time they are with their other parents, I organize a non-traditional holiday meal for my chosen family and friends. Believe me there is nothing like having Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant with 20 of your favorite friends to make you understand that holidays don’t have to look like they do on TV to be absolutely wonderful!
Yes, life can be a mess but if you think about it, all the most beautiful things start out with a mess. Whether it’s cooking a giant gourmet meal, planting a garden in spring mud, spending the day covered in paint on your latest work of art, or a room full of children collectively working on a project, messes can result in the most beautiful things. How about making love, or giving birth, or caring for a sick loved one, all messy, all part of what makes being human so amazing and so worth it!
How about internal messes? I don’t know about you but my messiest times emotionally and spiritually resulted in the greatest growth. Relationships of every kind; the one with yourself, or with friends, family or lover, are messy! Some days they are so messy we can’t see where to begin to clean things up but if we can just keep going, we always come out on the other end of the mess with something that is stronger and more beautiful than it was before.
The holidays tend to bring up a lot of messes for people! Consider it an opportunity but at the same time, take time to enjoy the beauty as well! What’s your mess this season? Whether it’s a dirty, greasy roasting pan, or something deeper, stay strong, roll up your sleeves and jump in, you can see this through. Remember, to miss out on the mess, you’d have to miss all the very best parts! And life is so totally worth it!