Holidays are rarely perfect days

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2023

By Bonnie Brown


“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got a wonderful feeling, Everything’s going my way.”   These are lyrics by Richard Rodgers and lyricist/librettist Oscar Hammerstein II for the opening song from the musical Oklahoma!

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It is a very upbeat song and portrays optimism.  Some days, you feel like that.  The world is your oyster and everything’s gonna go your way.  It is my definition of a “jelly side up” kind of day.  You may know that I define some days as “jelly side up” or “jelly side down.”  You know, as if you happen to drop your jelly sandwich, some days it lands jelly side up and other days it will land jelly side down.  Ugh!  My personal philosophy of life.  Not only can you not apply the five-second rule and eat your sandwich if the jelly sandwich has gone jelly side down, splat on your floor.  But you also have a mess to clean up.  

I think it’s safe to say that we have all had jelly side up weeks along with jelly side down weeks, perhaps even months.  Never more so than when we want and expect everything to turn out to our satisfaction, to have achieved perfection in our endeavors.   

I think that holidays should be jelly side up days, but alas that is rarely the case.  In fact, my level of frustration increases exponentially with my level of expectation for all things to go my way.  You know what I’m talking about.  The gift you gave fell far short of how you hoped it would be received.  The meal you planned for weeks turned out to be disappointing for a number of reasons.  

As children we are unable to mask our disappointment.  I’ve seen our children just toss aside a gift that I thought would be received with joy.  As adults we bury disappointment, but in reality, it remains and we often “revisit” the feeling of defeat for years to come.  Sometimes, we are able to put a humorous spin on things but only if the moment of the feeling of utter failure is shared.  Perhaps by a good friend, a close family member, or even the crowd of folks with whom you might have shared the less than positive outcome.    

It seems wrong that we string together all the big celebrations—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day—over a relatively short period of time.  It heightens the expectations and your chances of everything going your way just got blasted to bits simply because of circumstances that are beyond your control.  The weather is a big dream buster.  Think of the Christmas when you got a bike, and it rained cats and dogs for days.  Or when your favorite relatives were flying in to spend the holiday with you, but their flight got canceled, or someone gets sick.  

I remember one Christmas when we had lots of family members at our home for Christmas.  It was NOT a good time for the water to go off, but it did.  There was no water for showers and bathing, no water for flushing the toilets, and no water for the food items that required water.  Oh yes!  What fun!  Not!

My advice is to keep trying for excellence.  But may I also add, adjust your response to what might not work to your satisfaction.  And sometimes you can still have a beautiful day even when things don’t go your way.