Throw Away The Bar

I’ve seen the inevitable posts from people stressing over the holidays, and it got me to thinking.  The secret to life, especially as we age, is to channel our inner Belushi.  Get out the “College”sweatshirts and become slackers.  Well, not exactly, but close.

Here’s the way I see it: most of our frustrations in life come from measurements against some perceived standard, and our lives falling short.  This is true of marriage.  This is especially true of the Christmas season.  Something in our brains insists that there is such a thing as an ideal Christmas, and even though we can’t remember the particulars, we’d swear we had one in our childhood. 

It just isn’t true. Even if it SEEMED perfect, your parents were highly stressed out to make it appear that way to you.  The good old days were NOT that good.  This is a trick our brains play on us.

I can’t tell you how many relationships fail because one or both partners look at the relationship (and the other person), and compare them to some ideal; the person and the relationship NEVER measure up.

Want to at least get a chance of some contentment in your life?  Do more than just lower the bar; throw the darn thing away.  Enter every season of your life, every milestone, every day, every moment, without expectation.  When life asks you want you want, smile and say, “Surprise me!”

Young people do not want to hear this.  They are all about “I’m going to do this, then I’m going to have this, and by this age, I’ll be…”  And there’s nothing wrong with having goals.  What I’m suggesting is that you plan and dream in a more general way, and leave the specifics alone.

If you do, life will never fail to amaze you.  It’ll kick your butt sometimes, too (as I am finding out right now).  But one thing it will NOT do, is disappoint you.

An example: I always figured I’d have children in the normal fashion; they’d look like me and Lintilla, my grandparents and the rest of my family.  Well, that didn’t happen. But, you won’t see me mourning a dream-not-realised.  I did for a while, but I should have known better.

I got something far more interesting, fun, and more importantly: right for me.  I just didn’t know it at the time.

Back on topic, one of the reasons that I LOVE Robert Earl Keen’s Merry Christmas From The Family is because it takes the Ideal Christmas and throws it to the curb.  One can have a trashy redneck Christmas, and still have that warm, fuzzy feeling of hearth and home.  It’s all in the attitude.

This Christmas is going to be quite different for us.  It has to be, I’m doing the decorating 😉  We may not have turkey or ham – heck, I have half a mind to have German food (why do I always associate Germany with Christmas?) .  But then again, maybe we will.  The point is, it doesn’t matter. 

We’ll celebrate Christ’s birth, and otherwise, let the chips fall where they may.

I’m not going to stress out over finding the perfect gift.  It doesn’t exist.

All I’m saying is that if you can drop the idea of a perfect Christmas, life might just surprise you and give you one.


6 Responses to “Throw Away The Bar”

  1. newscoma Says:

    As you know, I LOVE Merry Christmas from The Family as well.

    Sort of brought us together. That, and my lack of knowledge about Nascar.
    With that said, you are right. I am not stressing about the holidays. I used to, then I got older and I realize that sometimes I create reasons NOT to be happy. This year (after a really yucky sorta summer) I’ve decided not to fret about it. Life is what it is. We better make the best of it, imho.

  2. Susie Says:

    Yep, we need to write a song called “Let Go, Let God” because He is already there taking care of all our needs in advance…right? (It could rock, lol)

  3. nm Says:

    Welllll … if I can draw on my memories of non-Christmas holidays, I’d say that what you’re talking about isn’t throwing away the bar, it’s just making sure that it’s the right bar for you and your family.

  4. Slartibartfast Says:

    nm – I think we’re saying the same thing, I guess (this is, in my mind, more than about holidays, but they are a great starting point) I was really speaking about eliminating the whole mindset of “I’m not happy because my life (my marriage, my being a parent, etc) isn’t what I’d hoped it would be”.

    I’ve been asking myself a lot lately: do we live our lives or does life happen to us? And like Forrest Gump, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a little of both. It’s a scary thing, admitting that one isn’t completely in charge of how his life unfolds – but it is totally true.

    I think this is extremely important in marriage. We can never, ever live up to some perfect ideal. Life is too messy – stuff happens, people are imperfect. I’m advocating that we stop trying ask our marriages to live up to some unreachable ideal, and, like I said, let life surprise us.

    That’s also really important in parenthood. I’ve said it in the past: as a father, my job is more that of a gardener than an architect. I cannot shape my kids and mold them to my will. They are going to grow up to be whatever it is they are going to be. All I can do is nurture that growth. Understanding this fact prevents much frustration. Accepting it is quite liberating.

    Sorry, I’ve gotten all philosophical. Seems to be where my mind is going today.

  5. nm Says:

    Sure. I’d say that marriage, and parenthood/childhood* too, and holidays and life and all, are always out of our control in important and mysterious ways. But, ya know, there are important parts that are often (always?) mysteriously within our control. One of our jobs as humans, children, revelers, whatever is to learn what these latter parts are, and work on them. Because when you make something a little better for people you love, that’s perfect. At least, right then and there it is.

    *in the sense of being a child to one’s parents

  6. nedwilliams Says:

    Great stuff, slarti.

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