How to Enjoy a Less than Perfect Christmas

Whether you're scrolling through Pinterest, flipping through your favourite magazine, or seeing Christmas adverts on TV, perfect versions of Christmas are everywhere during November and December.  While they are nice to look at and can even help inspire your own Christmas decorating, cooking, and gift buying, the danger of all this perfection is that it just adds more pressure to what is already a stressful time of year.

If you believe what you see in the media you may think that everything to do with Christmas from the tree and decorations, to the food, and even how you wrap your gifts has to be perfect.  That’s simply not true and deep down you know this. Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable.

The key word here is 'perfect'.  When you’re looking at all those lovely festive images, there’s a real danger that you start to expect your own family Christmas to have the same look and feel.  That’s about as realistic as wanting the perfect, air brushed body that the model on the latest fitness or fashion magazine has!  Coveting a magazine or Pinterest Christmas will only lead to disappointment, more stress and a feeling of inadequacy.

Do you know what, wonky cookies taste just as good.  Handmade ornaments with their flaws are charming.  Mix and match Christmas decorations reflect your style, your family history, and bring back lots of lovely memories.  A burnt pie or an under-cooked turkey may seem like a Christmas dinner disaster, but they also give you stories you’ll retell and laugh about for years to come.  (We still talk about the year my mum dropped the turkey on the floor and the year the oven stopped working on Christmas morning!)

But while we may intellectually know not to expect the perfect holiday display in a family with young children and pets, we may still subconsciously want it after seeing these perfect holiday visions all around us.  Since we can't realistically have a perfectly decorated home, or the perfect colour-coordinated tree with designer ornaments, we end up feeling disappointed when we look at the mismatched ornaments on our own tree.

When we fall into that trap, we miss out on a lot of what makes Christmas so special.  It isn’t about perfection, gourmet food, and colour coordinated ornaments.  It’s about sharing a special time of the year with our loved ones.

Christmas is about sharing memories and making new ones.  It’s about baking cookies, giving gifts, singing Christmas carols, hanging lights, sipping hot chocolate, and make more of those beautiful handmade ornaments with the kids.  It’s about being a messy, loud, and happy family enjoying Christmas together.

Stop striving for perfection.  Instead, focus on enjoying all the wonderful things about this lovely season.  At the end of the day, it won’t matter to your children, partner, siblings, or grandchildren how perfectly you wrapped their gifts.  What matters is that you chose something meaningful.

Don’t spend hours upon hours getting the tree decorated just right if it stresses you out.  If you’re enjoying it, by all means go for it, but don’t force yourself to create a picture perfect holiday home.  Instead, turn on some Christmas music and let the kids have fun decorating the house.  Then pile everyone in the car with some hot chocolate and go out to look at the Christmas lights.

When you feel yourself falling into the trap of wanting a perfect Christmas, think back on your favorite childhood memories.  I bet it wasn't about having the perfect tree, the finest food or a beautiful Nativity display that couldn't be touched.  Instead, our most precious memories are things like baking cookies, making ornaments, or singing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs.

Don’t let this idea of perfection take the joy of the holidays out of you.  Head to the kitchen and do some baking, hang the ragged paper ornaments your kids made with pride and get out all the kitschy little decorations that remind you of your childhood.

Crank up those Christmas tunes or put on a festive film and then nestle up on the couch with those you love.  Who cares that there are crumbs in the blanket and one of the lights on your tree is out.  What counts is that you’re having a good time. This year, instead of perfection, embrace cosiness, happiness, and love.  Merry Christmas!

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