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The Key to a Beautiful Holiday—And a Beautiful Life

I used to see life through an all-or-nothing lens. If something negative happened, the day was ruined. It was a failure, and so was I. After all, this meant it wasn’t perfect anymore. And I equated beauty and positivity with perfection.

But our days are full. Our days are multi-layered. Which makes sense because so are we. We can feel different emotions at the same time. We can feel grateful for the people in our lives, while our bones ache for the people who are no longer here. We can feel afraid of something new, while being over-the-moon excited about it. We can love our partners and disagree with them. Our kids can be happy, engrossed in a great game for 20 minutes, and suddenly, they have the world’s biggest tantrum.

Our lives are made up of so many tiny moments. And the key to a beautiful holiday, and really a beautiful life, is to notice and acknowledge these moments. To feel them with all our senses. To be thankful for them. Maybe even to document them, whether with pen and paper or your smartphone camera.

Your relationship with your parents might be multilayered and all sorts of complicated. But when you sit at Christmas Eve dinner, you might have a meaningful conversation. Maybe it only lasts 5 minutes. But it’s a poignant moment. You’re super busy at work, and worried you won’t get it all done. But then you look outside, and see a stunning sunset. You get a sweet text from your spouse. You’re walking home, and it starts sprinkling snow. You watch your favorite Christmas movie.The candle your best friend gave you is helping you unwind. Everyone in the family erupts in laughter after your grandfather says the silliest thing. You and your spouse share a long hug amid the spills, screaming kids and ripped up wrapping paper.

Magic can be small and messy and uneven, disheveled and disorganized. But it’s still magic.

I love what writer and editor Brittany L. Bergman writes in this piece on stealing joy: “I hunt for moments the way a photographer hunts for the perfect detail shot. When I find them, I capture them, holding the colors and scents and sounds in my mind, letting them crystallize into memories. A flash of light from the Christmas tree in our front window as we pull up to the house after a long night. Lingering around the fire a little longer with my family, their voices rising and falling around me. Kissing my daughter’s sticky marshmallow hands as she pretends to share one of her treasures, yanking it back at the last minute and giggling at my surprise.”

Bergman encourages readers to soak up the holiday, exactly as it is for you, a holiday “that maybe feels a little too busy or too noisy or too lonely, the one that’s never quite merry or bright enough. Let’s look for and steal moments of joy, catching them like snowflakes and stopping to admire them before they can melt away.”

The whole holiday, your entire day, doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be beautiful and profound. There may be several tiny moments, several snapshots, that are significant. And so you let them stay with you. You make a mental note or an actual note. You savor them with all your senses, kinda like you savor the last piece of chocolate in the box. You soak them up. And you realize just how immense they really are.

What snapshot can you capture this Christmas and New Year? What can you savor from now on? How might this perspective make your day? 

Photo by Nathan Fertig on Unsplash.
The Key to a Beautiful Holiday—And a Beautiful Life

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2017). The Key to a Beautiful Holiday—And a Beautiful Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 14, 2019, from


Last updated: 23 Dec 2017
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