Embracing an Imperfect Christmas
Every year I feel the pressure swell sometime around November. I used to be able to stave it off until after Thanksgiving, but each year it comes just a little earlier.
I want the perfect Christmas.
Here is what "perfect" means to me:
- I will have impeccable decorations that include a photo-worthy tree and an outdoor Christmas light show that gets over a million hits on YouTube.
- My hand towels will match perfectly-placed decor around my home, causing everyone to feel like they've entered a winter wonderland.
- Every friend and family member will feel spoiled and loved extravagantly as they receive the perfectly-purchased gift wrapped in a way that you can only find on Pinterest.
- In the kitchen my children and I will have a flour fight as we merrily sing carols while baking cookies that we'll give to neighbors and nursing homes.
- We'll find ways to love and serve the homeless and the hurting.
- Finally, each night from December 1st to the 25th we'll gather in the evening, preferably around a freshly-lit fire drinking cocoa, and share the story of Jesus, his birth, and redemption. It will be glorious.
It looks something like this:
Not. Even. Once. has a Christmas of mine ever come close to this. By "not even close," I mean every year I sit in disappointment because not only does perfection elude me, so does any semblance of order. (Here’s a hint of what I mean: I gave up on Christmas cards three years ago and if we manage to post a candid family photo on social media on December 25th I call it a success.) Every year I end up discouraged that I didn’t get anything “right."
Then I feel like this:
Ahem--I think it’s time to lay down my hope that this year will finally be “perfect." This year I'm choosing to embrace the imperfect Christmas.
3 Ways I'm Embracing An Imperfect Christmas This Year
1. Remembering that presence is always better than presents. I get trapped into thinking that since it's the season of giving, I have to spend everything I can in money, time, and busyness. But in reality the ones I love would prefer that I focus on them rather than trying something nice for them that causes stress. So this year I made a list of the things I feel like I should do (but don’t really want to) and I'm Not Doing Them. For example, for many years I've made Christmas cookies and fudge but this year I'm just making fudge, and only as much as I have time to make.
2. Simplicity in focus. Last year we attempted an elaborate family devotional time to prepare our hearts for the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Every night we had an activity led by one of my three teens. We managed it, but none of us felt closer to Jesus as a result of it. This year the family got together with the decision to simplify by spending 25 days reading the Christmas story piece-by-piece together nightly. We're going to talk about it and use sticky notes to write one word that stands out to us. We'll then put these around the house to help us stay focused. The whole thing should take 5 minutes, but that's enough to look to Jesus and remember who he is during this time.
3. Remembering we don’t have to fit it all in. Christmas isn’t the only time of year we can give or serve, just like Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of the year for gratitude. This year we aren't going to try to fit in every service project or make it the only time our family receives love. Instead, Christmas is one of many days that we can love God with our whole selves and love our neighbors as ourselves.
There will probably be times this Christmas when my family might seem like the fodder for a dysfunctional family Christmas movie, but I am going to try to be alright with that. I have a feeling that if I rest in imperfection, I just might enjoy the season.
Embrace a little imperfection yourself and choose one thing you normally do at Christmas but don't feel up for this year. Write it down. Now Cross It Off Your List.