Publix commercials, man.
Don’t they make the holidays look picture perfect? Homecooked meals, beautifully frosted cookies, a laughing family, pristine bows on all the presents. In the ads, Thanksgiving is really about being thankful and Christmas is about more than just commercialism. To convince you to buy their ingredients for grandma’s recipes and not shop at Kroger instead, they pull out all the stops and often induce the waterworks. Publix: Where shopping is a pleasure, and so are the holidays.
But that’s not reality, is it?
The holidays definitely have their bright spots, sometimes literally (candlelight church Christmas services, I’m looking at you). But oftentimes, the holidays are messy. Lonely. Complicated. Different than expected. Busy. Hard.
We have this picture perfect idea of the holidays in our heads, but that’s so far from reality. For example, my reality this year looks like: finals sapping my Christmas spirit until December 17; going out to breakfast with my friends after an exam but not eating anything so I can save money to buy something for my family and friends; typing this post out on my phone as I ignore my AP Bio homework; calling my mom two days before Christmas, crying and eating cold mac and cheese.
Imagine putting that in a Publix commercial.
My hypothesis is this: this year, we don’t need another picture perfect holiday. December should be more than plastering on the same smiles we wear on our Christmas cards. Can we please admit that sometimes, the Christmas spirit looks a little more like stress, not smiles?
We had one family Christmas on Friday night, and in the middle of it, honesty hour erupted. It started with a simple question from my aunt: “What is God teaching you right now?” More and more family members joined the conversation until it was everyone in one big circle. Phones were put down as people genuinely opened up about what was truly on their hearts. And honestly, it was my favorite part of the night. Better than getting a shirt that I wanted, better than witnessing a neighbor’s proposal, better than Christmas chicken: honesty hour.
It’s way too rare to say something real, and it’s even rarer around the holidays. We feel like everything is supposed to be perfect. We put on a fake front that we are Having Ourselves a Merry Little Christmas, thank you. Our ornaments say joy even if it’s the opposite of what we feel.
I’m so tired of festive fake. What if we start a new Christmas tradition? What if, in this tail end of December, as we rapidly approach the new year, we’re all real? We’re all people. None of us has it pulled together; everyone just acts like it. What if we stop pretending?
What if the happy holidays turn into honesty hour? With ourselves, with God, with our families, with our loved ones. I’ll be honest now: on Black Friday, I swore that this was going to be the best Christmas ever. It is now Christmas Eve Eve, and I still haven’t bought presents for my family. I tried a new cookie recipe today and they tasted like biscuits, which I don’t like. I called my mom tonight after the kids I babysat went to bed, and I just cried and cried and ate cold mac and cheese.
This is my Christmas. It’s messy. It’s imperfect, like me. I am giving myself permission to not have the best Christmas ever. I am not in a Publix commercial, and I’m okay with that.
Honesty hour is so much better than happy holidays, anyway. Let’s be real, together. Here’s to the truth, and here’s to you. Happy honesty hour.