Wanna Have a Happy Thanksgiving? Try Giving Up Your Dream of a “Perfect” One

  • Buy groceries.
  • Wait, no. Make grocery list first.
  • Oh, um, no. First figure out menu.
  • And pull up recipes from Pinterest.
  • Then make grocery list. And buy groceries.
  • Don’t forget foil pans.
  • Wait for husband to fix dishwasher.
  • Pray that husband can fix dishwasher.
  • Write T-Day schedule.
  • Plan to finish early enough to store dirty pans in oven.

And that’s just one to-do list for this coming week. I’ve also got regular house STUFF, a checkbook that needs to be balanced (um, last week), lots of laundry to do, a few extra guest blog posts that are due…or overdue, and {did I mention?} an enormous, terrifying, has-major-life-changing-potential project to finish. This week.

Have you ever felt like your to-do list has morphed into a get-it-done-or-else list?
Is this the year you’re hoping it will all finally go right? Are you counting on extra hours in the day without a hint of red lights or burned biscuits or cranky kids? Are you sure this year will be different…and better? Do you NEED it to be different…and better?

What do you think will make that happen? Food Network casseroles and HGTV decor? Kids wearing matching sweaters and baring almost-normal grins in front of the fireplace? Maybe a craft table for the little ones and gratitude mad libs for the adults? An eloquent prayer before dinner, spectacular centerpieces, Pinterest-perfect pies?

Oh, I know, I know. You don’t REALLY think that. Me either. At least not out loud.

Just like I don’t REALLY base my holiday happiness on what others do and say and wear and eat. I certainly don’t base my mood and personal satisfaction on how well I perform – or how well others see me (or don’t). Nope. Not me.


Maybe this could be the year that the holidays ARE different. Because maybe this could be the year we give ourselves a break. The year we give our family and our friends, our pets and our kids, our shopping lists and our pie crusts a break.

Perhaps we could truly give up on the idea – the FAIRY TALE – of the perfect, calm, festive, nothing-goes-wrong and everyone-gets-along holidays.

Maybe this year could be the one we actually have a little fun and smile for real and mean it when we rattle off a list of what we’re thankful for.

What do you say? Can we do that? Can our Big Holiday Plans focus on accepting and even embracing our real lives? The ones with stained tablecloths and late lunches and dry turkey and rowdy kids and arguing uncles?

I think we can.

Let’s do this. Let’s plan on a different kind of holiday season this year. One where we look around with fully open eyes and equally open hearts, where we say, “Yes. THIS is my life. THIS is my family, my home, my Thanksgiving. It might not make the front of Martha Stewart’s magazine or inspire Norman Rockwell-ish paintings, but THIS is my real life…and I LOVE IT.”

How will YOU give up on a perfect Thanksgiving this week?

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Mary Carver
Mary Carver is a recovering perfectionist, wife, and mom of two daughters who blogs about family, faith, food, books, and sometimes her favorite TV shows at her blog, Giving Up on Perfect. For more Mary, you can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.