Well, it certainly isn’t the presents, the decorations or even the turkey dinner.
It seems silly but it was the message in a Christmas movie that the children were watching that actually got my attention.
“Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to have a perfect Christmas.”Trust me, we’ve had our share of less than perfect Christmases over the past few years from financial woes, bickering, fighting depression to downright unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our children.
This Christmas wouldn’t have fared any different. I started off December with plans to host both a birthday party and a cookie decorating party which meant I had to have the house cleaned and the decorations up in record time, I had to bake several dozen sugar cookies for decorating and figure out when I was going to make my signature chocolate truffles. Throw in a tonsilectomy, a 40th Surprise Birthday Party, after school activities and a new extended work hours and Christmas shopping in there somewhere and well … I’m sure you’ve been there and understand what I mean. It seemed like every time I turned around I would remember someone else who I needed to buy a gift for.
So how did I get through it? Well, a supportive husband helps but most of all it took checking my expectations at the door. Laying off some of the pressure on myself and on the kids. So what if some things didn’t get done. So what if a pillow has hit the Christmas tree for the umpteenth time and the ornaments keep falling off and the garland looks atrocious. The kids love it anyway. That’s why we don’t put glass ornaments on the tree anymore. Oh well that the cats keep messing up the tree skirt. If it’s not the cats it’s the kids anyways.
So I didn’t get all of my chocolates done but I got enough to give to my family as gifts and the rest are in the fridge waiting. I did get sugar cookies baked for the party but no other Christmas baking. Who cares. My mother does enough for both of us and I don’t need the extra calories anyways. The kids still got to decorate cookies and that’s all they care about.
So we had to wait until the last weekend before Christmas to do all our shopping. We still managed to find everything we wanted and got the kids some really cool presents and we supported the local economy by not buying online.
My biggest tip for success is to keep the kids busy instead of expecting them to entertain themselves. They are all hepped up on excitement for the big day. Of course they are going to be a little crazy. Staggering out the activities over several days really helped.
Taking more than one drive around the neighbourhoods looking at lights. It didn’t have to be all on one night. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and a cookie and we’re good to go almost any night after dinner.
AND.. we stayed home. This year we visited with my folks on Christmas eve day and then stayed home on Christmas Day and did our own dinner with his parents that afternoon. I really thought I’d miss being with my family but it was just so nice not to have to rush out anywhere. It was a lot of work putting the dinner together but again, instead of fussing too much I opted for simple prep vegetables instead of getting all fancy. Turkey tasted amazing and the rest of the meal was familiar to my picky eaters.
I’m not saying I breezed through it all without a care. I had my moments of shame but mostly when it began to become overwhelming again, I’d just tell myself.. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
It’s so true.