The Holiday Newsletter: Has Happiness Become a Contest?

holiday newsletter

Please raise your hand if you get at least one holiday newsletter from a family member or friend. Thank you. You may lower your hand.

Now, choose one of the following.

Upon receiving this newsletter you:

A. Read it all, tears rolling down your face as you weep with joy for their successes and accomplishments.

B. Stop reading it when you get to the eighth amazing and wonderful thing they’ve accomplished/bought/or been awarded.

C. Read it all, then pour yourself a drink as you contemplate your success over the past year. Then, pour yourself another drink when you realize your successes amount to: Snagging a front row parking spot at the grocery store in July, finding that missing sock that had fallen behind the dryer, and contracting an AMAZING case of pinkeye not once, but TWICE this year.

If you answered B or C, come sit by me. I think we’re going to be great friends.

If I sound a bit grinchy, that’s because I probably am a bit grinchy. But I’m not alone. Many people, and especially women, feel an increase in stress and a greater level of depression during the holidays. So, it’s no wonder when one receives the “We’re Better Than You” holiday newsletter it takes some of the wind out of your sails. It’s easy, as the year comes to a close, to look back at what you’ve accomplished and be critical – of yourself, your spouse, your kids. Hey…it’s understandable. When your friend’s daughter enters Harvard but yours decides to take time off to explore the opportunities available in the burgeoning cannabis industry, it can make you question your parenting skills.

We’ve been comparing ourselves to our friends and acquaintances since we were in elementary school. But at least back then, once safe in our own homes, we were able to focus on something other than how we stacked up against the “competition.” These days, thanks to social media, we can spend each day looking at other people’s food, pets, vacations, home décor, pedis, and now – holiday decorations, and obsess over how everyone else is leading a Pinterest or Instagram kind of life while ours remains distinctly unphotogenic.

Choose Your Wins

I wish I had words of advice for how to deal with those jealousy-inducing newsletters – or those photo holiday cards with everyone in color coordinated outfits, sporting teeth so white and perfect they could be sponsored by a toothpaste brand and holding adorable dogs and cats that never shed or pee in the house. But I don’t have any wise words.

Some of us just do our thing. We get up in the morning and go to work and attempt to kick butt. We call it a win if we make it by the grocery store and the dry cleaner in the same day. If the kids are healthy, if we managed to squeeze into our not skinny – but not fat – jeans again, and if whatever just broke is still under warranty, it’s cause for celebration.

Maybe that’s the secret that can allow you to support your friend or family member and their accomplishments with an open heart. Instead of waiting for a dream vacation or newly redecorated home for an opportunity to pat ourselves on the back and holiday newsletter humble-brag to our friends, maybe we should be cheering the small stuff all year long. The everyday stuff that makes up most of our lives. Because, when you look at the big picture, there are lots of things we accomplish every single day. Lots of things to be proud of, and plenty we should be grateful for. We don’t all have to use the same measuring stick. Find the one that works for you and yours and celebrate accordingly.


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