I know your stress. It’s deep. It’s binding—the chaining of emotions to unattainable perfection.
I used to be you.
My young married years were spent attempting to be Martha Stewart. I’d spend endless hours crafting homemade gifts, baking delicious desserts, and decorating every nook and cranny of my home with properly themed colors.
Before we were married, my husband and I purchased a small Christmas tchotchke at the Dollar Tree—Christmas lettered out as a train in cartoonish fashion. For years I hid it from plain view because it didn’t match my themes.
Those early years soon led to children who helped hang ornaments on the tree. In huge clumps. Gaping holes everywhere. At night I would secretly rearrange their vision of beauty into my idea of perfect.
The sad truth is I spent so many hours attempting to create perfection, the joy of the season escaped me.
In more recent years, I uncovered a secret.
After years of stress-filled Christmas memories, I had to break free. And to shatter the chains? I had to learn one thing.
I can’t be perfect. I can’t be Martha. I can’t be you.
I can only be me.
So when I ask you to stop the perfection, I’m not asking you to stop making beautiful, hand-crafted cookies. I’m not asking you to pack away your Elf sitting on the shelf. I’m not asking you to stop creating gorgeous decorating designs.
I’m asking you to be, well, you.
I’ve learned everyone has her own gifts and talents to offer the season.
Maybe moving your Elf creates pure joy each night. I would curl into a ball of nerves every time I looked its way, so the elf has never appeared in my home.
I love baking a decadent dessert for others to enjoy. But maybe you break into hives just thinking about making homemade sweet treats, so buy store treats.
Working for months to make stunning homemade gifts for loved ones may bring you calm and relaxation. For me? I did that one year. Just one. The end.
Listen to me. There is no shame—no shame—in signing up to bring the paper plates and napkins or prepackaged platters to holiday get-togethers. This is often my go-to.
Instead of trying to keep up with the traditions of others, don’t be afraid of creating your own family memories. Memories that fit who your family is—who you are.
One night every Christmas season our family eats a dinner of hot chocolate, homemade cookies, and popcorn as we watch Home Alone. It’s simple. It’s easy.
What do you do well? What are your passions? Find your Christmas sweet spot and rest there. Rest in those moments, and you will discover how perfect Christmas already is.
This is where the magic happens.
Can you imagine? If all mommas stopped trying to outdo and one-up, but instead offered our own beautiful gifts to the Christmas season?
We’d see Christmas with clear eyes, joy-filled hearts, and unchained souls.
In recent years I’ve moved our tchotchke out in plain view. I no longer rearrange the beauty my children see. I still may get twitchy as I walk past the tree. I now work to create special moments for my children that fit who I am as a person and who we are as a family.
The pressure is off. Perfection is no longer attempted.
The miracle happens when we are ourselves. When we grant ourselves permission to do this, we find the beauty of Christmas exists without our help.
So stop striving and straining, momma. Please stop.
You’ll be so glad you did. Joy is waiting for you.
With Love and Understanding,
A Recovering Christmas Perfectionist