I don’t know about you, but most of the pictures I see floating around on Facebook and Instagram this time of year (for that matter, ANY time of year) depict the perfect holiday. Kids are carefully and happily decorating their gingerbread houses and frosting sugar cookies with endless amounts of patience. It seems there are endless pictures of smiling siblings in their matching Christmas jammies in front of the tree, and of course the stockings are truly hung by the chimney with care with the perfect presents waiting for their discovery on Christmas morning.
Last Christmas was our first Christmas as a family of four and I had visions of everything being perfect. I just knew that my kids would be well-behaved, grateful and smiling ear-to-ear. Instead I found myself with over-tired, grumpy, overwhelmed kids who were crying, whining and screaming. You know what else? I was grumpy, too, because the perfect Christmas I had envisioned was not materializing like I thought it should.
I have promised myself that I am I going to chill out this year and roll with the punches. Here are a few things I learned from our imperfect Christmas last year.
We were so busy going from one Christmas celebration to another that my kids were over-stimulated and over-tired to the max. Sometimes all they need is a nap in their own beds or to watch a movie to help them unwind. Don’t underestimate what a few hours of quiet time at home can do to refresh and reboot your little ones. I realize that many people travel during the holidays and are unable to pop back home for a short time, but you can achieve the same result by sneaking away to a quiet room in the home you are visiting.
Let Them Eat What They Will Eat
You know those creamy dips and fancy cheeses and rich desserts that you look forward to all year? Your kids might not have the same love for that indulgent food that you do. Instead of forcing them to eat something that does not appeal to them, let them have a peanut butter sandwich or make some mac and cheese for them. Holiday celebrations are not the place to enforce all the dinner rules you have all the other days of the year. Just remember, kids with full bellies are much happier than hungry kids.
Ditch the Expectation of Perfect
Yep, every single one of the dreamy scenes of Christmas that you have running through your mind, erase immediately. You are setting yourself up for disappointment. It is very unusual that things are going to play out as perfectly as you have planned. I went in to Thanksgiving with this frame of mind – no expectations – and we had a wonderful day full of priceless memories because I had no preconceived expectations of what the day should look like. Plus, sometimes reality can surprise you and be better than anything you could dream up.
I want to leave you with something that has stuck with me all year. Last year as I was sitting in our Christmas Eve church service listening to the sermon, my pastor said, “Christmas is not always perfect.” He went on to say that everybody has visions of the perfect Christmas, but more often than not life happens – and life is not perfect.
But you know what?
Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect because the reason that we are celebrating Christmas is perfect. He is perfect. And all that other stuff is just a bonus.
May you all have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.