Wednesday, December 27, 2017

My Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

Year after year after year... after year. The struggle has been repeated and relived.The quest for perfection. The desire to live out the best movie scenes. The hope for everything to go just right. The unrelenting pressure (from myself, my friends, and now social media) to look right, be the most dazzling, have every corner of my home photo worthy (Thank you, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook), serve a remarkable meal, give and receive the most impressive gifts, feed the hungry, experience Jesus in a remarkable way, treasure the tender moments, attend Nutcracker, symphony, Polar Express, local concert, dazzling light display events all over the city and New York, if possible, because that's what the cool people do, light up my lawn like Fantasy in Lights... I MEAN DO IT ALL! I don't but I feel the pressure to. And my nails and hair have to look great, too. And that, my friends, is what Christmas has become to most of us. A quest to create the perfect scenes and memories. A good  Christmas doesn't include death, sickness, financial struggles, choosing to forego unhealthy, lavish meals, job loss, messy homes and emotional breakdowns. All of that can wait because by golly, it's Christmas.

I remember the year I insisted we get up early and shower, put on our Christmas regalia before gifts and probably before stockings, so that our pictures would look perfect. Stylish. I have spent countless dollars buying things meant to impress others and somehow create perfection. I have spent weeks choosing the perfect Southern Living menu, centerpiece, decorations - all intended to make me feel like, and make others believe, we have a perfect life. And it has worn me out. Every year. I have had to struggle to remember the Reason for the Season. And somehow it has made me more aware of the imperfections - struggling to correct them all - which is impossible.


This Christmas has been different. It was completely (and perfectly) imperfect.  My side of the family has suffered numerous deaths this year including both of my parents. One of the deaths was my father's sister a couple of weeks ago. Her memorial service was the 23rd - my husband and I planned on going together as he knew it would be hard on me. Unfortunately, he was the victim of a nasty respiratory flu and had to stay home. We had kids moving out of our house, other kids moving to a new home in a new state, a police officer who had to work, a home neglected during all the grieving... so much imperfection. The week leading up to Christmas, I chose to leave the neglected house (hire someone to do the cleaning) and go see my daughter's new home a few hours away. On Thursday night I drove home for the night. Avoided my sick husband like the plague, repacked and Friday morning headed to North Carolina for yet another funeral. After the service and a little family time, I got in my car and returned to Georgia to begin my Christmas. It was dinner on the 23rd when I returned. How in the world was I going to create a perfect Christmas? I only returned home a couple of hours before the kids started arriving. How, I ask you, and better yet, when?

Well, I simply decided not to. I accepted  that my house would not look perfect. I opted for projector lights for outside instead of putting my husband to task creating a grand (and impressive) light display. I simplified all the meals. I patted myself on the back for getting my tree and nativity up (and let go of the need to pull out all the decorations and my very many ornaments). I left the countertop a little messy and chose to focus on what really mattered. What, indeed, was that? If not creating the perfect Norman Rockwell scene, what actually mattered?


The PEOPLE. We sat in pjs, watched movies, read books to our granddaughter, played with the rubber ducky nativity.  We may have built a fire, I don't remember. If anyone had hot chocolate, they made it themselves. We face timed with our other granddaughter who, at only 9 months old, was in the hospital. We gave thanks, abundant and genuine thanks, for her release from the hospital on Christmas Day (no surgery needed! 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻). My scenes weren't necessarily photo worthy, but there were some good ones - if they were well cropped. My food tasted good even if it wasn't as fancy as normal. I didn't give the most meaningful or impressive gifts, but my family seemed grateful. The Christmas cards were never even bought this year, but I told people I love them. My business Open House never happened. I went to bed in tears Christmas Eve worrying about my granddaughters - I told you one was in the hospital, the other was spiking a pretty good fever.


BUT, and do not miss this, I felt closer to Jesus than I have in a while. I felt the love of my imperfect family and my slightly imperfect husband (he's pretty close to perfect). I was able to have 2 of my 3 sets of kids with me. And while it was sad that Army life created some tough choices for one son and his wife, I was glad to have him stay with us while she went to Texas. I spent my days in the living room playing and listening instead of off in the kitchen trying to be Martha Stewart. I enjoyed Christmas. I wasn't numb. Sometimes I was sad and that's ok. I found the perfection right in the middle and actually, because of the imperfection. I started on a mission to help others find more joy and less stress during this season and was fully blessed by it myself. Glory Hallelujah! I found the time to sit and imagine  the sights, sounds and smells of the manger scene. I won't be on the cover of any magazine, but I did get to watch an incredible sunset as we sat down for dinner. And my centerpiece of pine cones, carefully collected and scented with essential oils a week before, may have smelled like floor cleaner they came in contact with during the curing. Sigh. No, it wasn't perfect, not at all, but it was gloriously imperfect and it was beautiful.

1 comment:

  1. I'm right there with ya! Perfectly imperfect Christmas, that's what we had also...I order tamales and only cooked 2 dishes! So happy to know your babies are feeling better. That;s the best gift! Thank you Jesus