I had so many ideas for a December blog post. “How to Decorate the Perfect Tree”, “Recipe for a Perfect Holiday Party”, “Don’t Panic, but Your Mother-in-Law is Coming”.
And then it occurred to me that these may be the last things some of us need to hear this time of year. Enough already, right? So I started thinking instead about how we might bring ourselves a little less stress and a little more joy during the holidays.
There is no decorating advice in this post and no pretty pictures, so if this is the only reason you’re here, feel free to stop reading now. Consider yourself warned. : )
As for me, when December rolls around, I become a very stressed out, grumpy and not nice to be around person. I complain endlessly. Like if Scrooge and the Grinch had a baby together.
The to-do list is longer than what one human could ever pull off, the presents need to be conceived/purchased/wrapped, some entertaining should be done, the greeting cards must go out, blah, blah blah. And then in January someone actually has to pay for all of this.
And to top it off, I see so many people around me who seem to REVEL in all of this holiday stuff, LOVE it, get so much JOY out of it. How???
If I’m being totally honest, I’d be just as happy to fast forward to January 1. I like to blame it on the fact that we celebrate 2 holidays in our family and that it’s all just too much. I’ve come to realize, however, it’s all about the idea of Perfect.
My realization started with this fantastic blog post from a few weeks back by Glennon at Momastery. And then along came this amazing Ted Talk by Brene Brown. I was really moved by both of these and I think, for me at least, they are linked together sort of like this:
Fear of not creating the “Perfect” holiday:
= only seeing the bad/overwhelming
= not welcoming your friends into your home over the holidays without major anxiety
= subjecting your family to a very unpleasant wife/mommy for 30ish days
= desire to hide under the covers until the ball drops
And when I say perfect, I don’t mean really PERFECT, I mean things like “the house is not clean enough” “the food will not be good enough” “the gift might not be exactly right”. I mean really silly “how could it ever be good enough so I just won’t do it” kind of thinking.
I’m starting get the idea that (a) this really IS crazy thinking (b) I seem to be missing out on a lot of fun here and (c) maybe I need to define my own meaning of holiday Perfect. Not what I see in a magazine, or on Pinterest (Heaven forbid) or on someone else’s Christmas card.
I’m still working on what this new Perfect will look like, but here are a few ideas so far:
My kids coming home while something, anything, is cooking and noticing the good smells coming from the kitchen. And this can be tacos from a box.
Inviting friends over and not worrying that my floors are not even close to being clean. I’m toying with the idea that my friends might not care as much as I think they do about how clean my floors are.
Realizing that it all gets done in the end. Every single time. Just focusing on today and not freaking out about tomorrow or next week is not actually a bad thing.
And lastly: thinking about my own Perfect holiday memories. They are memories of all of us crammed into the tiny den at my grandparents house just hanging out, of staring at the patterns made on the ceiling by the blinking lights on the tree, of waking up in the wee hours with my sisters to see if Santa actually came. They are of feelings of love, wonder and excitement. Not one material thing, beautifully decorated home or grand party.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with material things, beautifully decorated homes or grand parties. They can be amazing! As long as these are not things that are stealing the joy from your holidays. And if you are one of those people who can pull all of this off effortlessly and enjoy it and still be nice to your family then I envy you. I am in awe of you. I want to be just like you! And I have tried and I have failed for many years in a row.
This year, after finally realizing how crazy it is to let December turn me into baby Scrinch. After getting that it shouldn’t be about trying to make someone else’s version of Perfect holidays, I’m starting to feel kind of relaxed. This is an odd sensation for me in December, but I’m sure I could get used to it.
So dear friends, if you’re feeling anywhere near like I’m usually feeling in December. If you have been pretending to be jolly while really just trying to hold it all together until 12/26, I encourage you to take some time to think about your own favorite holiday memories. Perhaps use that as place to begin to pick your own holiday Perfect. Take a deep breath and see if you can focus more on the good feelings and less on the super high expectations we seem to place on ourselves this time of year.
A wise friend once told me that your happiness is the best gift you can give your family. Take a moment to think about that as a new holiday Perfect.
And for goodness sakes, whatever you do, stay off of Pinterest.
Wishing you holidays filled with love, peace and joy and your very own kind of Perfect.