We all have our own particular take on Christmas – from pretending it isn’t happening, to doing something totally offbeat, or going traditional.
Our family goes traditional, led by my wife’s side of the tribe. As a Jew I’m here to learn, and learn I have over the years about all the intricate and specific rituals that appear to be vital to a “perfect” Christmas.
It is of course many of these rituals, and the mandatory adherence to them, that generates a lot of the pressure and stress of that big celebration. To name but a few: stockings, crackers, smoked salmon blinis, the Queen’s Speech (even my mother was known to stand as the National Anthem was played, and we’re not even English!), turkey, sprouts, potatoes, devils on horseback, pudding, Christmas cake, quizzes, games… and that doesn’t even take into account every family’s own home-grown traditions.
This Christmas we went away, and I took Carol Dwek’s book on mindset with me—it’s a great read—and was self-analysing as to whether I had a predominately “fixed” or “growth” mindset.
Somebody with a fixed mindset believes that their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. They tend to believe that talent alone leads to success, and effort is not required.
A person with a growth mindset, on the other hand, has an underlying belief that by taking the time to learn, their intelligence will grow with time and experience.
Meeting a challenge: deflate or motivate?
As I read, my eldest daughter (a trainee chef) was preparing the Christmas lunch with help (and no small amount of supervision) from her Granny – the oracle on what a perfect Christmas was.
I could see how hard my daughter was finding it. She wanted to get everything right and to not do so would be failure. Worse than that, her Granny was very clear that there was only one way to succeed and to fall short was “wrong”.
I was about to intervene when I realised that my daughter had risen to the challenge, politely accepting the feedback, adjusting what she was doing to see whether it fit with her plan and being energised by the bumps in the road.
This was a powerful illustration of how your mind can either deflate or motivate, and the power of mindset over tangible technique and skill. I’m only in Chapter Three of Dwek’s book and finding it fascinating and applicable already.
I also now know that devils on horseback need more cooking time than you think, and having a warmer oven is vital to everything being ready at the same time. But even if I mess up, I’m still a good cook… and I’ll do better next time!
Managing Director, Sun and Moon Training