Our less than perfect Christmas…

The day before Christmas Eve I found myself in the shower practicing deep breathing.
Just breathe…. in and out…. “ I told myself, “clear your mind, relax your shoulders, relax your hands”. These are the things I tell the labouring women I act as doula for, and while I was not in labour-(NEVER AGAIN!)-my mind was was definitely in need of a major intervention.
I was in Perfectionistic Brain Lock. My need for everything to be “perfect”( whatever that means) was absolutely paralyzing me and I could not think straight,.  And so I did what I do for labouring women when they are on the verge of losing it in a big way. I talked myself down.  “It’s ok, you’re doing great!” I told myself soothingly. “Everything is going just exactly the way it should be”, “just relax and go with it, ride the wave…ride the wave”. 
I went on to tell myself that every person I knew did not need a beautiful platter of baked goodies. Not even every person I really really loved needed a beautiful platter of baked goodies. In fact most people were sick of sugar at this point, and most certainly nobody was missing my attempts at baking. Trust me.
I reminded myself that my children would not remember the goodie plates, the meal, certainly not whether or not the house was perfectly in order,  or even the gifts. But they would remember the mood of the event. They would remember if their mom was a screaming stressed out shrew on a schedule and a mission. And they would remember if she was relaxed, fun, laughing. They would remember if she was spontaneous and excited or whether she was curt and distracted. They would remember if the mood in our house was light and happy or tense and edgy.  These are the only things they would remember. I do all this “stuff” ostensibly to create happy memories, which add up to a happy childhood, and then in the fever of doing all this “stuff” I often completely lose the plot. I forget what it is all about. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?
For once, I listened to myself. I was obedient to my soothing words. I resolved (and reminded myself of that resolution every time I started slipping) that I was going to have a good time with my kids and my husband.  I was going to talk to them about what really matters, I was going to show them what really matters. We may talk a good game about serving others at Christmas time but if we are so stressed out in the process that we snap at our kids, we have lost the plot.  I decided that this was not going to be the story of Christmas 2012. It would not be perfect. It would NOT BE PERFECT.
And it wasn’t. It was thoroughly flawed. (I will do the full pictorial marathon in the next post).  Several treasured friends did not receive cards or plates of goodies. Maybe I will catch up with them before the New Year, I’ll do my best, and if I don’t, I’m pretty sure they will remain treasured friends. We totally forgot to put out milk and cookies for Santa and write him a little note. Gracie had to get up out of bed to remind us. Santa came anyway, he didn’t care that the cookies were not on “the” special plate or that there was no note. And the kids didn’t seem to care that he did not write one back. The kids’ Christmas Eve play was not as spiritually uplifting as one would hope, (it may or may not have included a reference to someone being “shanked” ) but it was funny, they composed and presented it together without fighting or parental intervention, so I laughed and applauded without further comment.  On Christmas Eve morning, we went to do our final 12 days “drop” and even though 12,000 things remained undone at home, I determined that none of them would keep my kids from having a good, memorable, spirit filled Christmas. But me freaking out about them? It would. So instead of racing home to get on the “clock” I suggested that we go through the drive through to get some hot chocolate in our pajamas. When a friend called asking Finny to play, my first instinct was, “but it is Christmas Eve day, we should be gathering around our non-existent fireplace and baking gingerbread”. But the kids had already assembled the store bought gingerbread house, and they really didn’t have much going on for a couple of hours. And so he went and played.
It was so liberating! It was a wonderful imperfect Christmas. I loved it.  I want more of the intentional imperfection. Because let’s face it, even when you stress yourself out trying to get it perfect, it’s never perfect. And for a control freak, the only way to really be in control is to be intentionally out of control. See? See what I did there?
Our wonderful imperfect Christmas was a  perfect segue into 2013: The year of living Fearlessly. Aka The Year of Imperfection. Not that all the others haven’t been thoroughly imperfect, but this year, I’m going to let go of the dream. I’m just going to live and try to focus on the things that will be remembered.
I saw this quote on another blog today and I loved it so much I made it into a little pretty.

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Brenda Shope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda Shope said...

Beautiful! I am so glad you did not have a screaming banshee perfect Christmas :-) You are so wonderful and honest and I really appreciate reading about your successes as well as those...other things (oh yea, mistakes). This new year filled with letting go of perfection and taking chances should load us up with hilarious and exciting stories to share. I am looking forward to hearing yours!

Brenda Shope said...

OK...so them it already saved my first comment too? Hmmm, why is this confusing for me? Don't answer that...going to Facebook now...

Brenda Shope said...

P.S. stealing that cool quote!

michelle said...

Like your obsession for getting everything done, I have one for time keeping! I have to be on time! I spent Christmas with people that I love more than I could explain but who are the worst timekeepers on earth! I had to have a stern talking to myself as well and that day, even though they were all late, it turned out to be wonderful. So although Iam never going to be tardy I think I will resolve next year to let others arrive and leave whenever they want and not make it my problem!! Well said and may 2013 be a fantastic relaxed one!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully mature, liberating, good on the introspection post!!! YAY!!!! Your kids and husband will chalk this up as the best Christmas ever. We had a totally untraditional but very relaxing Christmas, and although I missed the traditions, it gave me some good ideas for future ones. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

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Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!

He continually kept talking about this. I am going to forward this information to him.
Fairly certain he's going to have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

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