In my opinion, it pretty much stinks to be a SuperGal during the holidays.
SuperGal? You recognize her, I’m sure. Controlling, perfectionistic, exhausted.
Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Easter, etc. The same. Always the same.
Married as a teenager, I took over every single family holiday every year beginning at age twenty. Yep. Twenty. At 50-something, I was still at it:
There would be no extra sleep for SuperGal this Thanksgiving Day.
In my family, I was responsible for all of the cleaning, shopping, elder transportation, and the cooking. No one brought a dish to share. I’d never asked them to. Was I resentful? You bet.
They arrived, and they ate. It had been so for many years. Back then, I couldn’t quite figure out if that was their fault for not volunteering, or mine for allowing it. Wisdom of years showed me it was mine.
I had no siblings, two daughters who lived on their own but hadn’t been taught how to cook, and elderly parents who were well past their days of meal preparation.
Why, oh why, did I feel the need to be so super all the time? To handle everything myself and never, ever ask for help? To create the perfect holiday atmosphere? The holidays, all of them, were to be dreaded.
This SuperGal would accomplish each task, of course, but I didn’t have to like it. And I didn’t try to change it. That would risk making someone unhappy.
I was an enigma. To the world, I was assertive, successful, and strong.
Behind closed doors I was hopelessly bound by the chains I had forged all by myself.
Despite my labors, my struggle for perfectionism and Rockwellesque gatherings, those things never quite materialized.
The family would arrive and make themselves comfortable while I worked alone in the kitchen. Maybe they’d drape their coats around the perfectly-decorated room. My elderly dad would perhaps unintentionally spill a drink on the impeccable tablecloth. My efforts would go unnoticed.
That dream day was never once perfect.
In 2007, when I turned 53, it all came to an end. This SuperGal stamped her shiny-pink-pumps-with-bows and declared, “Enough!” Summoning all my courage, I proclaimed that I was retiring from the holiday kitchen, even if that meant eating cold cuts at someone else’s house.
Yes, there were a few early, weak protestations. But I finally recognized my family just wanted to spend time with me, not admire the flower arrangement. They wanted to laugh and be themselves without risking “The Look” due to their imperfect behavior.
Among the pangs of regret for all the years wasted worrying about the unimportant, I also found freedom. Freedom to just be and appreciate. Imagine that! Freedom to share. Relax. To even be—dare I say it?—imperfect! Ouch.
These days, if one of my daughters tells me we are feasting on turkey served up on paper plates? Fine!
Sitting in different rooms because she has no table large enough? Doesn’t matter.
Eating a side dish that isn’t cooked exactly the way I used to make it? Who cares?
At last I grew old and tired enough to recognize that I had spent years doing all those things for a reason important only inside my own head. So I opened my tight, controlling little fists and let it go. I broke the chains that weighed heavily on my shoulders.
There are probably a lot of you reading this who haven’t been able to let go, even if you no longer enjoy it. I’ll bet you even issue the Thanksgiving/Christmas Eve/Christmas Day invitation to your grown kids in July in hopes to beat out the competition—their in-laws!
You may not even realize you want to let go. You tell yourselves you love the holidays! Love doing all that work by yourself! Love striving for perfection! And maybe you do. That’s not for me to say.
Or, perhaps you’re a lucky gal (Super-or-otherwise) whose holiday dinners are truly a family affair, with everyone pitching in to shop, decorate, cook and clean up. If so, enjoy!
If not, ask yourself: Am I doing this because it brings me great joy, or because I feel compelled by guilt? Or a need for perfectionism? Or because “it’s what we’ve always done?”
This holiday season, take a few moments to pray. To evaluate what you are doing. And why. To ask if it is still working for everyone involved, including you. Ask God to reveal if your motivation is flawed.
This SuperGal, without a single regret, joyfully overcame the Tyranny of the Turkey.
Have a blessed and joyous Thanksgiving!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
Author, Speaker, Singer
The SuperGal Syndrome – Breaking the Chains of Control, Pride & Perfectionism™
Busy, burdened women are increasingly suffering from the debilitating side effects of superhero complex, known as The SuperGal Syndrome™. This spiritual disease has become epidemic among women of all ages, negatively impacting our families, friends and fellow believers. This syndrome, and its focus on control, pride and perfectionism, causes a chasm in our personal relationship with Christ.
Fueled by my passion to inspire women who struggle in their self-imposed chains, I’m sharing my SuperGal recovery secrets through the Word of God. I encourage you to surrender these chains to God. Because. . .
IT’S NOT OUR JOB TO RUN THIS PLANET!
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