I hope all my American readers had an awesome Thanksgiving! We certainly did. Good friends we have not see in eight years, since we were all stationed together in Germany, came to visit us. My parents were here too, and it was just one big reunion. We ate and talked and laughed like those years hadn't passed. The only evidence they had was the 11 year old child who was a toddler back then. :/

After dinner, the ladies looked at the Black Friday ads. Not that we intended to brave a single store, but looking at the ads is just fun. Later that evening, we went to a Christmas light display in the local botanical garden. And it suddenly came home to me just how rushed this season typically is.

We have an extra week this time, due to the early Thanksgiving, but it's still time for trees and tinsel and gifts and cards and lights and all the pressure that goes along with those things. Now, I am accustomed to pressure. It seems as if I'm always writing to some deadline or other, and that they get crammed up on top of each other so that I feel as if I'm never getting out from under them.

Add in Christmas, and the pressure skyrockets. I'm sure it's not just me. I'm sure that, whatever your profession, you might feel a little bit of pressure this time of year to provide that perfect holiday experience. We're all supposed to be Martha Stewart, right? Somewhere, right now, Martha might be making homemade Christmas cards and canning fresh berries while single-handedly decorating the most fabulous tree ever decorated. Go, Martha.

I think it's okay not to be Martha. I think whatever we manage to do, so long as we are happy and our family is happy, is enough. Not only that, but our families can also help us during this time of year. Make addressing cards into a family project. Make decorating a family project. Make cookie baking, if you like to do that sort of thing, into a family project.

This season is about togetherness and family and giving and remembering our blessings, so I think it's okay if our house isn't perfectly decorated and we don't have the exterior draped in lights that blink on and off to the beat of a song.

This brings me to another point. Theodore Roosevelt said that comparison is the thief of joy. Do not compare yourself to others because you will only feel bad in the end. There is always someone who has a prettier house, more money, better decorations, etc.

But here's the thing to remember. Besides not comparing yourself because it's upsetting, life is not static. The neighbor with the prettier house and nicer decorations might lose his job and have to move. The coworker who had all her cards out the door the day after Thanksgiving, and who finished her shopping back in August, might have personal problems you can't begin to fathom.

There are no guarantees in life, so celebrate where you are and what you can do and don't compare yourself. I know that's not always easy. I know it's human nature to compare and find ourselves lacking. But the life that seems perfect on the outside isn't always, is it? Just ask Martha Stewart. All the crafting and cooking and decorating in the world didn't help her stay out of jail when the time came.

So remember that your perfect neighbor or your perfect coworker might just be one insider trade away from a stint in the corrections facility. 😉

Go forth and be happy this season. Enjoy, celebrate, and let things slide if they must. Be happy, friends. That's the most important thing.