It is that time of year again where EVERYONE gets crazy. If you are a recovering perfectionist that has kids, no matter how far you have come, you feel the anxiety and perfectionism slowly take hold of you. That can be me. Honestly, no matter how cool I play it, if I do not fight it really really REALLY hard, perfectionism and unrealistic expectations will ruin Christmas EVERY DANG time.
First, let me tell you something. My husband thinks I am old enough and mature enough to have Thanksgiving at our house. And I agreed. I am not sure what planet I was on at the time but I responded with a “WOO HOO! YES! Let’s do it!” Then, when I was wide awake at 3 am one morning…..like a slow vine it began to sink in…. I, me, the girl that my mom refused to eat any of my food when she came over, is going to prepare, host, etc…an entire holiday for people.
How does a perfectionist that has had all kind of hurt happen at Christmastime ACTUALLY enjoy the holidays? HHhhmmmm…. I am not really sure. I will share what I have learned. I will be direct.
There is a Facebook Christmas and the REAL Christmas. Know the difference.
This picture is my family standing by our soon to be Christmas tree. You do not see me. I am taking the picture. I am also NOT speaking to my family. In my opinion, John was acting like a jerk BUT I am pretty sure I was the biggest jerk of all.
I only spoke to them to tell them to get in front of the tree because I was going to show everyone how great our Christmas was. Also, John was actually with us this year and not in bed sick. We were SUPPOSED to be holding hands, singing songs, and dancing around the Christmas tree like the movies. But that didn’t happen. The good news is we were talking to each other 24 hours later. Some days it takes me that long to calm down.
Behind every perfect staged Facebook post is a real story that isn’t told. Be aware. Depending on my mood, I may be responding to posts in only Grinch GIF’s if applicable. This is your warning. Also, we say that we know this about Facebook but we also need the reminder.
Be a Grinch or Martha Stewart….but be you and do not pretend.
In the course of a day, my attitude and mood can fluctuate. I can wake up feeling like Mary Poppins (I almost spelled it Poopins and that could be correct, too.) and in 10 minutes with kids, dogs and husband can feel like Cruella Deville. If I look at the world around me I could imagine that I am the only person like this but because I talk to so many women, I know that I am not alone. My goal is to not always stay in the Cruella Deville stage but I do give myself a couple moments there to own it and then move on.
If that is me on a daily basis with the normal amount of stress from life, what happens when you add shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, etc…. with a big scoop of perfectionism on top to that? You get ugly. Then you try to pretend that you are Martha Stewart when on the inside you are the Grinch and you get a woman that is going to explode on a close family member that never ever saw it coming. (That may or may not have been me a time or two.)
You are not responsible for anybody’s happiness. Not your husband’s. Not your kids’. Not your in-law’s. You are responsible for you. If your family does not enjoy themselves, that is their problem. If they have a bad attitude, that is their problem. If they are not appreciative that is their problem. Their attitudes, moods, and opinions are more about them than you. Now, if you act like a jerk to them and yell, you will have to apologize and make it better. I have missed many moments because of a poor attitude and self-pity. That is on me. Nobody else is to blame and when someone else in your family is at that ugly place, understand that they have to work through that themselves.
Go small or go big….but it is your choice.
I like a big tree. I like a really big tree. A big tree is a lot of work. Since I choose this, I can’t complain about it. It takes all four of us to get it up. Some years we have to anchor it to the wall. Some years it falls over. And when it falls over it is my fault because I always insist on the BIG GINORMOUS tree. I take full ownership and I do not complain when it goes bad. If you choose to go big and things do not go perfect, own it.
The tree is the only thing I go over the top with. I do not do elaborate decorations. I do not do perfect wrapping for every gift. I do not buy a present for every person that my family knows. I choose small and intimate. That is how I roll. I do it because this is how I have chosen to do Christmas. It works for me. Moms make Christmas happen. Each mom has a choice on how they do Christmas. Are you trying to meet your expectations? Are you trying to meet other’s expectations? Why are you doing this? Once you know your why, then do it. Do what is important to your family.
When John was lying in bed that first Christmas, we knew he wouldn’t be with us on the tree hunt. I suggested that we get an artificial one. The girls cried and insisted that we get a real one. To them, a real tree was so important. So we did the real tree. It was smaller but it was real. We found one of our “must have” traditions.
Ready or not, Christmas comes. Ready or not, your kids grow up. Ready or not, we choose our attitude toward it all. Some days I will be Grinchy. Why? I will be Grinchy because there are a lot of pressure points from life that hit me at the holidays: my hospitalization, watching one of those hospitalized friends die, John’s sickness, my father’s death, going “no-contact” with my remaining family, and Coop’s death. Christmas can make me cry.
On the other days, I will say no to say yes to the people that matter the most to me. I will make time for friendships that sustain me. I will make time to hang with the family I was told I would never have and I never thought I deserved. I will grieve the losses and celebrate the growth made because of those losses. I will laugh when I feel joy and cry when I feel sorrow. All of these things make up life, so why do I expect them not to be there at Christmas?
I decided at 3 am that I would make Christmas the best that it can be not by any outward thing I do but by how God has transformed me through the hurt. I will celebrate the hope that each day gives let alone each season. The holidays always come and go, how I respond is always my choice and “perfectly imperfect” is my go-to response.