This time of year can be particularly difficult on a perfectionist. I know; I am one. It’s not my best trait. Far from it, actually. I mean… I guess there are advantages to wanting to do everything as best as I can, but the ugly truth is that it causes far more stress behind the scenes than it should.
Sometimes Most of the time, I get caught up in perfection and lose sight of meaning. I obsess over what I perceive to be the best way or best result, and I often forget why I’m even doing what I’m doing! Can anyone out there relate?
The holiday season tends to bring out the worst in me. My Christmas tree has to be just right; every ornament has to be in its designated spot so that the tree looks symmetrical and, well, perfect. The handwriting on my Christmas card envelopes has to look like a computerized font because fonts are flawless. Any holiday treat that I make must not only taste heavenly, but just like it would if it were photographed in Southern Living magazine. And gifts… gifts have to be overthought because that’s what makes them so personal, right?
Y’all, STOP IT! Stop right now, take a step back, breathe, and give yourself grace.
We have got to stop doing this to ourselves!! We’re missing the point!
If you have children who want to help you decorate the Christmas tree, let them! If they’re only 3 years old and most of the ornaments hang two feet from the ground, embrace it. The memories that will be made will far outlast your feelings of imperfection. And I bet that it will be a beautiful tree to everyone else. Especially the children. Take a moment to step back and see it through their eyes.
Aside from junk mail, people tend to still love receiving physical mail. With all of the digital Christmas cards available, I still enjoy sending traditional Christmas cards to friends and family. Any cards that I receive are displayed as part of my holiday decor. Cards are a small exchange of something personal between two people… so why do I expect my handwriting to look like it was computer generated? For the simple reason of perfection? I don’t care if your handwritten address isn’t straight, that the ink smeared when your left hand slid across the envelope, or that you had to make that 5 look like a 6 because you transposed the numbers. What I absolutely love is that you took the time to select a card and personally wish me well. Write me a note inside too. Don’t worry if it’s in a “sloppy” handwriting because you’re writing them in the car-rider line as you wait to pick up your kid from school. I don’t judge your cursive skills, I promise. The words outweigh penmanship, every time.
My dad has been telling me for years that it doesn’t matter what food looks like, as long as it tastes good. The perfectionist in me refused to believe him. There is something to be said about presentation, after all. Right? Listen, unless you’ve attended a culinary institute or have worked in a restaurant for a decade or more, chances are… you’re not a chef. No one made reservations, drove an hour, and waited on a seat to eat your Christmas cookies. If the cake you’ve made for the company potluck is leaning a little, I guarantee it will still be eaten. I personally have eaten many Christmas treats and I can honestly tell you that I do not recall what any of them looked like. I can tell you how they tasted… but I didn’t pay attention to their appearance.
Last night I overcame a perfectionist obstacle. I was in a local department store shopping for one of my Angel Tree kids. The little girl wanted clothes, but was not descriptive of the style, color, or brand. How on earth would I ever get this child the perfect Christmas present without these details? I could feel myself starting to panic as I paced the shoe department. I don’t have kids. I have no clue what the latest styles are for her age. Should I buy the jeans with the distressed look or the skinny jeans? I wondered what her favorite color was. I just wanted the best for this child who was going to have a minimal Christmas… and that is when it dawned on it. Minimal Christmas. Perhaps she left off details because she doesn’t care about brand names. Maybe she didn’t share styles or colors because she isn’t aware of the options in a big department store. Anything that I selected for this child would be her Christmas. It won’t be about what she receives, but it will be everything to her that someone gave her something. I was nearly brought to tears. I stopped, and thought back to my life at that age. I didn’t want to shop from the perspective of a 40 year old anymore. I wanted to shop as an 8 year old. I did, and the feeling was overwhelming. I didn’t have a care in the world. I didn’t stress over brands and just started finding clothes and shoes that looked cool. I mean, they make hightop sneakers with glitter on them now! The 8 year old in me LOVED that!!
Today, I encourage you to stop searching for perfection. We will never be able to achieve it. Stop beating yourself up and causing yourself stress striving for something that simply does not exist in the physical form. Give yourself grace — that free, unmerited favor. You’re doing the best that you can. You and your efforts are enough!