Ah the holidays. For some of us, it’s an absolute frenzy of grocery shopping, food preparation, meal presentation, cleanup, and lastly, utter exhaustion. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of creating the “perfect” holiday. Years ago, my mother wanted to set a new standard for Thanksgiving dinner in our household. After listening to her children go on about their preferred style, brand, and weight of the “perfect” turkey, the meal became her gauntlet. My mother spent weeks scouring the internet and investigating grocery stores for the best-tasting turkey – the holy grail of basted birds. She discovered her prize at a health food store. The turkey was hormone-free, cage-free, grain-free, and lived a life of leisure. Days before Thanksgiving, she applied seasonings, loaded it with her infamous stuffing, and finally, placed it in the oven.
Once the bird was golden brown, she proudly displayed it as the centerpiece of the dining room table. Each of us chose a slice and took a bite of the tender meat. As everyone began to swallow, my mother glanced up and looked around the table. My brother was the first to speak. “This… is not good,” he declared. “I think it’s underdone,” added my father. I asked if it would help to put it back in the oven. It was too late. The damage was done. We attempted to thank her for her efforts (and delectable side dishes). After sampling the turkey, she shook her head. She believed the entire holiday was compromised by her underwhelming turkey.
The moral of the story? You can spend hours, days, or even weeks chasing the “perfect” meal. You can try to satisfy every member of your family and friends. The thing is, you don’t have much control over others and their expectations. You can, however, manage your expectations and be proud of your effort. Remind yourself that this meal is not an extension of your role of wife, daughter, mother, or friend. It is a waste of precious energy to look back on what you “could have done” or “should have done.”
Instead, find peace in the little moments you have with your loved ones. Laugh with your son when he wants to keep the cranberry sauce in the shape of the can (even at age 25). Invite your daughter to help with the potatoes when she strolls into the kitchen at 11AM. And if your turkey tastes terrible, take it back to the store. I hear they give refunds and gift cards as consolation.
Dr. Lauren Easton is a Doctor of Philosophy, Health and Psychology of Physical Activity from the University of Kansas. She also holds a Ed.S. in Counseling and a Master’s of Science in Kinesiology- Sport Psychology from Georgia Southern University. Dr. Easton areas of specialty include goal orientations, optimizing experiences with physical activity + nutrition, exercise psychology, goal-setting plans, and strategies for health-related behavior changes. Dr. Easton is a key component to the Simple Weight Loss Program, assisting patients in experiencing growth throughout the weight loss process and maximizing their experience in physical activity, nutrition, and other health-related behaviors. Dr. Easton also leads the Simple Wednesday Walking Group every week starting at 7am at Rock Chalk Park. Also, learn more about Simple Wellness Support with Dr. Lauren Easton.