As I write this, it is only a few days after Thanksgiving and my sister has already been listening to Christmas music for a few weeks.
Yes, it’s the holidays.
For many, the holidays are a mixed bag. It’s a time of discomfort and joy, peace and crazy, merry and yeah right. Its a time when togetherness and loneliness walk a fine line and when all I want for Christmas is not necessarily you.
The holidays are also a time when feelings of “not enough” haunt us throughout the season.
On Thanksgiving day I ran a 5k and cooked a turkey with all of the fixings for my family. I should have been feeling accomplished, but instead I felt not good enough.
I was disappointed in myself for my 5k finish time, which was a minute and a half slower than last year. I was disappointed in myself for buying a pumpkin pie from the grocery store instead of making one from scratch. And I was disappointed that I forgot to buy sweet potatoes to make a casserole.
When I am disappointed in myself, when I’m regretful, when I don’t feel like I am enough this lonely feeling comes over me. I get a lump in my throat. Emotions well up, but don’t overflow.
I ruminate. A lot.
I hate this feeling. It makes me feel like a child all over again. I remember those intense emotions filling up my little body and spilling over into tears. Only now my body is full grown and the emotions don’t always fill me up. The tears linger in the distance. There is no release.
On Thanksgiving day, I had to do a reality check.
I gently reminded myself that I am enough and I do enough. That I was enough and will be enough.
The reality was I got out of bed on Thanksgiving morning and ran three miles to benefit a local charity and that was enough. I made an entire Thanksgiving meal and that was more than enough. No one really missed the sweet potatoes and I didn’t hear any complaints about the store bought pumpkin pie.
The holidays, in particular, have a way of making us feel not good enough, or put together enough, or thoughtful enough, or rich enough, or social enough, or Martha Stewart enough.
But, I’d like to think that I am enough and you are enough. That we are more than what we manage to accomplish during the holidays. Even if we don’t believe it, we have to keep telling ourselves we are enough over and over and over again until we do believe it.
If you couldn’t travel for Thanksgiving and found yourself eating Chinese takeout alone, you are enough. If you don’t have enough money to buy Christmas presents this year, you are enough. If you don’t go to that holiday party, you are enough. If you burn the sugar cookies and have to send store bought cookies to your kid’s class, you are enough. If you bought the ornaments on your Christmas tree at the dollar store in 1986, you are enough.
The holidays are not about proving ourselves.
Long before Christmas was what we know today, Christmas was a story. It was a story of a loving God giving a gift to the world. This God, who didn’t have to care about mere humans, thought they were enough to give the gift of divine presence here on earth.
Even if you don’t believe the Christmas story, the idea that we are enough despite our humanness is something to regard. Even if you don’t believe there is a God who loves you, believe you matter to someone this holiday season. Everyone matters. If you found time to read this blog during all of the hustle and bustle, you matter to me.
To matter is to be enough.
The holidays mean different things to different people, but I believe they are about gratitude and love towards the people that matter in our lives, including ourselves. In order to practice outward gratitude and love, we must first practice inward gratitude and love. It’s the only way we are ever going to believe we are enough.
I encourage you to have frequent reality checks with yourself this season. When you find yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed or disappointed, when you find yourself making unhealthy comparisons, when you don’t know what to do or how to do it, just say “I am enough.”
Because you are.